There is a story in the Bible in Luke 19 about a man named Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus was a man of money. He was a tax collector, hated by his people. I mean what’s not to hate? He was a Jew who worked for the Romans, and the Romans were the oppressive power controlling the Jewish people. Zacchaeus would take money from the Jewish people and give it to the Romans; a standard part of the job, but it meant tax collectors were considered by the Jews to be traitors. They were looked upon like dogs. Scavengers. The scum of the earth.
But Zacchaeus was worse. He not only took from the Jews to pay the Roman oppressors, but he took extra to pad his own pockets. If you can imagine the worst of the worst, he was it. No one wanted to be with him, no one wanted to know him, no one cared about him. Most people hated him. He was, in Jewish eyes, the enemy.
When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming through town, he desperately made his way through the crowd to catch a glimpse but could not see Jesus because Zacchaeus was a short man. So, he made his way to a nearby tree and scampered up it.
I can imagine him looking out over the crowd, hoping that Jesus would recognize and acknowledge him, even though no one else would. I can imagine his lonely heart. His need for attention.
Then comes Jesus.
Then comes the God of compassion.
Then comes a savior to a man hurting and broken inside.
Then comes salvation.
“And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’ Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold’” (Luke 19: 5-8 NKJV).
William Barclay says this regarding the actions of Zacchaeus: “A testimony is utterly worthless unless it is backed by deeds which guarantee its sincerity. It is not a mere change of words which Jesus Christ demands, but a change of life.”
Testimony without change is worthless. A man who is doing wrong by stealing from others becomes curious about Jesus and then turns completely around. He is now willing to sacrifice what he has.
Jesus’ response to this is, “Salvation has come to this house.”
Jesus was a friend to sinners; this means he wants to have a relationship with us—real people with real problems. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; what matters is what you do now!
Jesus loves us despite the way that others look at us. Jesus loves the outcasts, the broken, the sinners.
Jesus loves you.
Will you move forward today? Will you accept God’s great love for you?
Pray this prayer with me: “Jesus, today I accept that I have done wrong and am in need of your forgiveness. Will you please come into my life and move me forward? I need you.”
We are all sinners saved by God’s good love.