I give up. I’m a quitter. It’s easy for me to give up on people when they don’t seem to want to change or let God change them. I’m pretty sure that others have felt that way about me before.
So in reading through the One Year Bible this week I recognized someone on which I probably would have quit. This guy seemed to care more about money than God, and certainly more about money than his fellow citizens. He’s the kind of guy that needed nobody and could take care of himself. Who was this man?
We read in Luke 19:1-10 about Zacchaeus, the chief tax-collector. He was the man who contracted with the Roman Empire to collect taxes in the region of Jericho. He would have chosen who to hire as tax-collectors. He would have skimmed off the top of what his tax-collectors skimmed off the top of their fellow Israelites. And he would have been filthy rich too.
So it’s no surprise that he was despised by his own countrymen. He was described by them as a ‘sinner’ (v.7). He had been written off. There was no hope that he could care about God and people.
And yet Zacchaeus is intrigued by Jesus. He wanted to see who Jesus was, he wanted to know more. Being short, he climbs a tree to see Jesus. Something considered only doable by a prophet, Jesus calls him by name, and invites Himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ house. The crowd is shocked that Jesus would associate with a ‘sinner.’
Zacchaeus wasn’t interested in the God worshipped by his neighbors, and he didn’t want to care for them the way God desired. And yet Jesus hasn’t given up on Zacchaeus. He is changed by the grace given by Jesus. Zacchaeus responds to this grace by making restitution in quadruple to all he’s cheated and gives half of what he has to the poor. In fact, his response goes beyond the requirements of the Pharisees who only required four-fold restitution for a stolen sheep or ox that was slaughtered or sold.
I would have given up on Zacchaeus. Jesus did not. And the result of Jesus’ grace is a changed man…a man who is now a powerful agent in God’s Kingdom. And I would have left him to extort from more people.
Maybe it’s easy for you to be like me, to give up, to say, “They can’t be changed.” Luke 18:1-8 reminds us to never give up in prayer. Will you keep praying for those in your life and in our world who need Jesus?
Will you show them the same grace Jesus showed Zacchaeus; the same grace He showed you?
Will we live a life like Jesus that so that people would want to see who we are?
Imagine the response in their life if salvation came to their house.
It surprised the Israelites that Jesus would care about Zacchaeus. Does it surprise you that He cares about those in our world that we’ve written off? It shouldn't. After all, Jesus ends His time in this scene giving us His purpose. He came to seek and to save what was lost.
Posted on Thu, April 21, 2011
by Pastor Aaron Geist