Friday, September 27, 2013

The Tree Climber

Luke 19 tells the story of a wealthy tax-collector named Zacchaeus.   He was a short man, but wanted to be taller on that day because Jesus was in town.  Zacchaeus wanted to see who this Jesus was, and he was having trouble seeing over the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree, just so he could see Jesus as he passed by. 

Jesus came to the tree and saw Zacchaeus up there, and told him to come down. Jesus further explained he was going to Zacchaeus' house that day!  I doubt it took very long for that short man to get out of that tree. The Bible says he welcomed Jesus gladly.

This caused quite a bit of concern from those who observed these happenings.  Tax-collectors were not regarded with high esteem in that day.  In fact, since they made their living by charging more money than had been levied in taxes, there was a lot of crooked dealings on the part of the tax-collectors.  The bad feelings toward them caused the onlookers to make the statement, "He (Jesus) has gone to be the guest of a sinner."

If the story ended there, I would be quick to admit Zacchaeus  was the object of my envy.  This sinner would welcome Jesus, not only today, but every day!  The story didn't end there.

Look at verse 8.   But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

The verses that follow do not let us know if Zacchaeus had fraudulently dealt with these people in collecting their taxes.  Some say he did or he wouldn't have made the offer of restitution.  The important thing for us to notice is Zacchaeus is now in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth, and from his heart is more than willing to make any wrong things in his life, immediately right.
The words Jesus spoke next would be the words I would want Jesus to speak if he came to my house.  "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham."

To a woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus extended forgiveness.  Another woman with a poor reputation, met Jesus at a water well one day, and through their conversation about her life, she ran into town a believer, inviting everyone to "Come, see a man."  Still another occasion involved two blind men who received their sight and the blessing of knowing their sins were forgiven.

It is no wonder the story of Zacchaeus ends with Jesus saying, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Lord Jesus, come to our cities, our homes, and our lives, convicting us of our sins and offering your love and forgiveness.  Thank you for seeking and saving the lost. Amen.


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