If there was a gangster in the Bible, it was probably Zacchaeus. He and his henchmen were responsible for a lot of pain and heartache. Through the story of his encounter with Jesus, we see who Jesus is.
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region Luke 19:1-2
As a tax collector, Zacchaeus participated in and profited from the Roman oppression of his own countrymen.
and he had become very rich. Luke 19:2
Not only was Zacchaeus a traitor and a thief, he was really good at it. And he had probably grown used to being hated by his fellow Jews.
He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. Luke 19: 3-4
No doubt, Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and rumors that he was the promised Messiah. He was an innovative guy who was used to getting his way. He didn’t care what people thought about a grown man climbing a tree, he just wanted to catch a glimpse of Jesus.
When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. Luke 19:5
They say the sweetest sound to human ears is the sound of his or her own name. Jesus called this rejected, hardened, selfish man by name.
“Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Luke 19:5
It shocked everyone around that Jesus would enter the house of such a notorious sinner. But Jesus didn’t just say he loved sinners, he lived it.
Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. Luke 19: 6
Hanging out with Jesus filled Zacchaeus with great excitement and joy. Jesus was fun to be around, he looks on everyone with love. Jesus is not your accuser or prosecutor. He is your friend and rescuer.
But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Luke 19:7
Pharisees and religious folks are good at one thing – pointing out sinners and condemning people. Jesus made a point of seeking out and befriending sinners. We have all sinned, but it’s crazy how often when we conquer a bad habit we begin to judge others. Hopefully, as we experience grace and come to know the love of Jesus we will move through these four stages:
- I am a good person, and I’m justified in criticizing bad people.
- I am a good person, but I should show compassion to bad people.
- I am a sinner who needs just as much help as the next guy
- I am loved by Jesus, just as I am and so is everyone else.
Jesus loves sinners, it was his mission to seek and save those who are lost. If we are going to be like Jesus, we will reach out to those living outside of his love. There is no better time than Easter. Invite the people in your world to Shoreline this Easter. You can pick up invite cards on campus or use our Facebook event. We are ready to introduce them to this Jesus.