“Birds of a feather flock together.” We all know that cliche. We all know that it’s usually used to warn our children about the kinds of kids they are hanging out with. Well, there are also those times we use it to explain why some adults have gone wrong in life. We love guilt by association when it applies to others.
Zacchaeus was a bad person. To start, he was a tax collector. Need I say more? Especially when thinking of the times when Jesus walked this earth. You avoided Zacchaeus and other birds of the same feather as much as possible. Tax collection back then was a different art and a tax collector might stop you and impose an arbitrary made up tax on the spot. So Zac heard that Jesus was coming into town and wanted to see Him. When he couldn’t break through the crowds, he climbed a tree to look at Him. Jesus noted his presence and made lunch arrangements on the spot. This bothered the people a lot. “All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’” (Luke 19:7)
Maybe it made them feel better to diss Jesus like that. Maybe they were all hoping that Jesus would eat with them. When Jesus chose Zacchaeus to eat with, it was a blow to their egos. Those in the crowd acted like a middle school boy jilted by his crush who sniffs and says, “I never liked her anyway.” Before the crowd could walk away, though, an amazing thing happened. Zac, moved by the compassion of Jesus, promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and return double the required amount to people he cheated. I’m guessing at this point people who knew that Jesus has power over the wind and the waves were taken aback. Commanding the wind and the waves was nothing compared to changing the heart of a tax collector!
I can’t help but wonder what people who really knew me would say if they knew that I had encountered Jesus. “Look, Jesus is friends with a sinner!” would probably be close. An encounter with Jesus is life changing. If you meet Jesus your outlook on life will change. Your concern about money will change. Your apathy towards people will change. You will immediately become a bit more like Jesus and begin a lifelong path that will lead you to care more about people than things; more about God’s way than your desires; and more about relationships than personal success. Have you met Jesus or have you just had a religious experience that made you feel good about life?
Lord Jesus, I come to you as a sinner. Each and every day I need Your grace and forgiveness. Change me Lord more and more each day to become like You. Let others see You in me.