COZY WITH A CROOK
Jesus, calm all the distractions of my heart and mind as I seek You today.
Read Luke 19:1–10
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
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.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow are you at tree climbing? What obstacles would you overcome in your determination to be with Jesus?
This event has not been well served by countless retellings as a children’s story. If you’ve grown over-familiar with it, try to recapture its significance. It’s truly shocking that this up-and-coming religious teacher, Jesus, should be going out of his way to associate with someone so despised in the community. Tax collectors worked for the hated Roman government, greedily lining their own pockets by over-charging the people. As The Message version puts it, the people grumble about Jesus “getting cozy with this crook” (7). In their eyes, Zacchaeus is definitely beyond redemption. But Jesus says that Zacchaeus – like the disabled and oppressed woman he met and healed earlier (Luke 13:10–13) – is a “son of Abraham” – potentially as much God’s child as they are.
Jesus never forgets that the heart of his mission is to “seek and save the lost.” And there can be no doubt that meeting Jesus is totally life- transforming for Zacchaeus. How can we tell? Because his immediate response is to unshackle himself from the love of money that has driven his career (8). A genuine change of heart always leads to changed behavior.
Has your encounter with Jesus changed your lifestyle and life habits? Are there areas that you still need to hand over to God’s transformative hands?
“Beckon me down from the branches of my hesitation. Invite yourself into my life and help me start today to live in your
salvation.” (Eddie Askew, Breaking the Rules, Leprosy Mission International, 1992)