Tuesday, April 8, 2014
The Honest Christian
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
19 He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8 Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
In today's text the people of Jericho had the nerve to become angry with Jesus decision to stay at Zacchaeus home, because most of them were "good" Hebrews and followers of Jehovah who would never be caught PUBLICLY in the company of a sinner like a lowly tax collector.
Today being a tax collector or working for the IRS is not frowned upon unless it's after April 15th. However in Jesus time Hebrew followers of God did not have to pay tax for religious reasons unless it was forced upon them which was considered horrible and sinful against God.
However as we continue to read the passage we see a truly eye-opening revelation. It's revealed that Zacchaeus, the presumed tax collector sinner was actually more righteous and honest of a person than the rest of the citizens of Jericho. Zacchaeus was so thirsty just to see Jesus that he climbed a tree, he was so eager to fellowship with Jesus that he welcomed Christ and his whole group into his home. Zacchaeus was so solicitous for a relationship with Jesus and a life change that he immediately gave an offering of half of all that he owned to the marginalized.
Wait and there's more, the truest revelation comes next when Zacchaeus reveals that he has not defrauded anyone and if he have ever cheated anyone out of anything let them come forward and he will pay them four times more. WOW! Because of all of this he is offered salvation and a chance to become a believer, the one whom people thought was dishonest was indeed the honest Believer/Christian.
As Christians this type of passage should inspire us to stop and think especially about those whom we judge and place labels on, we might be judging a Zacchaeus, we might be labeling the honest Christian. What would that say about us? Would we then be like the citizens of Jericho?
Dear God, thank you for challenging us and inspiring us to be better servants of you. Encourage us to inspire others. Amen.
Be Well, Love Pastor Sirchester