Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual deadline to submit our income tax returns at this time of year has been delayed. It's no-one's favourite thing to do. I don't know of anyone who rushes joyfully to pay their taxes! Instead, we look for all the exemptions we can, we submit every charitable receipt, and we claim for every eligible dependent. For all of the indignation that we feel about our tax bracket and the calculations, though, we do recognize the need for tax money to fund our economy and social services.
The story of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector in the prosperous trading centre of Jericho, is a familiar one. If we think that we resent our taxation department, those people detested the tax collectors! They were viewed as traitors in the service of the Roman overlords, taking not only the legal tax but gouging their fellow citizens for their own enrichment. A short man as well, Zacchaeus was mocked and hated.
On the day when Jesus came to town, Zacchaeus wanted to see Him so much that he was willing to be undignified and laughed at, by climbing a tree to see over the heads of the crowd. The Lord could see how much Zacchaeus risked in order to see and hear Him. Jesus did not pass him by, but called him by name, visited his home for a meal, and had a real conversation with him.
Luke 19:8-10 – Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give him back four times as much." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost." (NASB)
This man, whose profession had made him an outcast, had opened his life and home to God with real joy. In turn, Jesus let everyone know that Zacchaeus was no outcast, but a true son of Israel, not by heritage but by faith. The response was joyful giving.
Jesus came to seek and to save people like Zacchaeus. We, too, can seek and pray for those who have no friends, who are alienated from their families, and who are rejected by society. Those people are not lost to the Lord! Let's call them by name, have a conversation, and maybe share a meal. We might have the privilege of witnessing someone respond to the Lord Jesus with joy, and see the heart change that salvation can bring.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for bringing people like Zacchaeus into our lives. Give us the courage to look beyond the rejection that they have received. May we be the ones who call others to You by name. Amen!
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Listen while you read: "Thine Be The Glory" (Lyrics)