Today we consider the story of Zacchaeus. Notice the connection between repentance and generosity and salvation.
1 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.”
Because Zacchaeus was so short, he climbed a tree to be able to see Jesus. This was for him a celebrity sighting. Imagine getting to see your favorite actor or musician walking down the sidewalk. But Jesus turned the encounter into something else.
Jesus invited himself to Zach’s house – which is quite scandalous, considering that he’s a detested tax collector. At that moment Zacchaeus acknowledged that he had cheated people. He repented and committed to a new life of generosity.
And as a result of Jesus’ visit salvation came to this house. After all, this is why Jesus came: to seek and save the lost.
God of scandalous love, who rocked the world by extending your grace to everyone, including the worst sinners, make me generous like you. Give me a heart big enough to embrace even the worst people I know, remembering that you embraced me too. In Jesus’ name. Amen.