Zacchaeus was a despised tax collector. Shunned by his countrymen. Rejected by those who knew him. But then, one day Jesus walked by and did the unthinkable. He invited himself over to Zacchaeus’ house not to lecture him, not to list his many malfeasance, not to condemn him, but simply to break bread.
Those watching were indignant. How dare he eat with sinners? What kind of prophet would associate with a traitor? Today, we would have stopped following Jesus on Facebook, the ultimate insult, if he dared associated with someone we thought a sinner.
But notice Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus’ invitation- Repentance.
Repentance wasn’t birthed from rejection. Repentance came with acceptance.
Jesus is both merciful and just. He skillfully walks the fine line of loving people where they are, while leading them to Truth. Look at his track record:
The woman at the well.
Matthew his disciple.
The sinful woman who anointed Him.
The woman caught in adultery.
You and me.
All were accepted BEFORE repentance. Yet all repented.
Our society today needs Christians to be more Christ-like. Loving the sinner while leading them to repentance. Perhaps we should take an in-depth look at how Jesus did this and then do what He did. Maybe we should ask the Holy Spirit to give us insight into how to love like Jesus. Maybe we should stop allowing others to dictate how we respond to sinners and consult with the New Testament’s message of grace.
Pray this with me:
Father, teach us to love people into the kingdom, like you did.
It is your goodness that will lead others to repentance. Let me be a demonstration of your goodness.
“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.”” Luke 19:8 NIV