Jesus and Zacchaeus

Jesus entered and traveled through Jericho. The chief tax collector there was named Zacchaeus, and he was quite wealthy. A large crowd had gathered to see Jesus but Zacchaeus was having a hard time spotting him because he was very short. He ran ahead along the path that Jesus was going to take and climbed up a sycamore tree. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up into the tree and said “Zacchaeus, come down quickly because I must stay at your home today.”

He quickly climbed down from the tree and joyfully welcomed Jesus. Everyone who saw this began to complain “He’s going to stay with a sinner!”

But Zacchaeus stood and said “Listen, I’ll hand over half of everything I have to the poor, Lord, and if I’ve overcharged anyone I’ll repay them four times the amount!”

“Salvation has come to this house today,” said Jesus, “because he also is a son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to find and rescue the lost.”

LK 19:1-10

Dining with sinners

Then Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his house for a large feast. A lot of the other people who were there were tax collectors and those who were disreputable, because these kinds of people flocked to Jesus. The Pharisees and their scribes complained about this to the disciples, asking them “Why does your teacher associate with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus overheard their question and replied “Only sick people need a doctor, not the healthy. Go study this teaching from the Scriptures – ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ My whole purpose is to call sinners back to God, not those who think they’re perfect.”

MT 9:10-13, MK 2:15-17, LK 5:29-32

“But I’m not judgmental!”

People will say “but I’m not judgmental!” in the same way they will say “I’m not racist!” and then tell a racist joke.

They say they aren’t judgmental after saying that they are against someone because they are gay. I know a lady who refuses to go to a certain denomination of church because it has an openly gay bishop. She doesn’t go to any church, and is living with the father of her child. They are not married. So “being gay” is worse in her mind than what she is doing.

I asked this lady “What does Jesus say about homosexuality?” She stammered “You tell me”, because she didn’t know. The answer – “Nothing”. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, but He said a lot about not judging others.

He said “Judge not, lest ye be judged”.

He said to not point out the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but examine the plank in your own.

He said that whatever measure you use will be used against you.

The role of the Christian is to be like Jesus, and Jesus was about radical acceptance. Jesus took in all that came to him. We are to be examples of that love by how we live our lives. We are to be welcoming. We are to be servants.

We are not gatekeepers or guards. We don’t get to decide who is on or out. We don’t get to tell people off.

The funny part about being part of the Body of Christ is that we are members with prisoners and tax evaders and alcoholics and wife beaters and the average everyday jerk.

That is kind of hard to accept for some people. They think that being Christian is like being part of some elite social club, where only the cream of the crop get in.

Their logic goes something like this – “If Jesus lets “them” in, then that means we are just like them, and we don’t like the idea of being just like them, because they are sinners. We don’t want to be associated with them.”

Then the reality sets in.

Jesus came to heal the sick, not the well. We are all sinners. And we are all redeemed. There is room enough for us all. Once we become Christian, we don’t stop being us, with all our faults. We don’t start being perfect. We just start realizing that we are all loved the way we are because that is the way that God made us.

Jesus calls us when we are broken, not when we are perfect.

Jesus erases all lines of “them” and “us”. We are all one.

It is our job to make people want to come to this healing, this forgiveness, this acceptance. We are to welcome all in the name of Jesus. They won’t come if we are pointing fingers and calling down the wrath of heaven on them. Think back to what drew you to Jesus. I bet it wasn’t someone yelling at you that got you there.

This doesn’t mean that we need to water down the message of Jesus – not at all. This means that we are to live it.