19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. 2 A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” 6 So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.
7 Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One[a] came to seek and save the lost.”
“Everyone who saw this grumbled.” How can we understand this story and the interaction between Jesus, Zacchaeus and his community in today’s terms? Let’s imagine that a local bureaucrat “Z” is raising your taxes to give to the country that had conquered your country, and this bureaucrat is getting richer, while you are being taxed into poverty. This bureaucrat is a collaborator and considered a sinner, an outcast by your religious community. Then imagine, along comes Jesus and he calls the bureaucrat by name, and rather than ignoring or denouncing this bureaucrat a sinner, Jesus goes to “Z’s” house to eat with him. All the ‘good’ people are left ‘outside’ in the street. That’s when the grumbling starts. When Jesus saves a sinner, we often don’t rejoice, we grumble, and like the crowd, we just want justice. This story about Jesus recognizing and saving a sinner holds the mirror up to our faces. We’re all sinners, yet we want justice to be done to those we deem on the outside of society, and we expect God to show us mercy. We are given God’s grace and mercy, we are redeemed by Jesus and receive salvation, and yet we grumble.
What we need is “Jesus vision.” Jesus is always going after the lost sheep. This is his mission, to save the lost. The flock of Jesus’ followers is, well, supposed to be following Jesus’ example to love God and love others. Jesus sees beyond our small vision of our own salvation; Jesus sees the salvation of the world. So, when Jesus goes to Zacchaeus’ home and shares a meal with him, salvation comes to Zacchaeus and the community benefits because the heart and mind of Zacchaeus gets a fresh start. Zacchaeus gives half his fortune to the poor and repays those he defrauded four times as much. I wonder if the crowd was still grumbling.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
This story reminds us we need to develop “Jesus vision,” the vision that sees the lost, shares the good news of Jesus and invites them into the flock. Once we were lost. Jesus sought us and saved us and changed our lives, Jesus gave us a fresh start so we can be part of God’s transformation to change the lives of others, our community and the world.
This week start practicing “Jesus vision.” Look for the lost, share the good news, invite all those who are on the “outside” into the flock-and try not to grumble.
Prayer: Holy God, forgive us, take away our need to grumble and replace it with “Jesus vision.” Help us to see the lost, share the good news of Jesus and invite all people into the flock. Amen.