8 Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:1-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus and Zacchaeus
19 He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading—Pastor Pam
So much of the Gospel is about people being able to see who Jesus is. The Tax Collector Zacchaeus is one of many Biblical characters trying to see him. In Luke’s story, Zacchaeus is described as short in stature and so he climbs a tree above the crowd to see Jesus.
What was Zacchaeus thinking as he climbed that tree to seek a perch above everyone else? Was he curious about who Jesus was? Was there an emptiness in his life as an outsider, the tax collector, who made his money earning the enmity of those he collected from? (Back then, tax collectors were known for unethical practices that took advantage of the people.)
Jesus looks up at the little tax collector and tells him to come down. “I must stay at your house today,” Jesus says. Might we reflect that in this moment, as he locked eyes with Jesus, Zacchaeus was no longer short in physical stature, but more importantly, he was no longer shortsighted about his life. He was about to exchange a life that used others for one that served others.
We also know that the crowd grumbled about Jesus’ invitation to Zacchaeus. “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner,” they said. This poses another reflection for readers. Do you identity with the tax collector who is made welcome? Or do you see yourself as a member of the critical crowd? In either case, both constituencies have issues of shortsightedness.
Peace and Grace,