Out on a Limb

Luke 19:1-10.
"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.”

This story is more than just a children's story; it is one of the most powerful and provocative stories in all of scripture. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector for the Roman empire in the prospering city of Jericho. He worked for the occupying forces and was regarded as a traitor to his own people.  But his life was missing something, and he went searching for Jesus.  In his desperate search for that something that was lacking in his life, which money obviously did not satisfy, he was willing to go out on a limb to find it.

Once he was out on that limb, the most amazing thing happened, Jesus stopped, looked up at Zacchaeus, and called him by name.  In Isaiah 43:1, God says, “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.”  You may think you are all alone in this world and nobody knows you and nobody cares. But there is a loving God who created the universe who knows you and calls you by name.

Jesus wanted to spend time with Zacchaeus.  That reality shook Zacchaeus to the core, and he was instantly broken because of the grace and compassion shown towards him. Something in that encounter with Jesus changed the way Zacchaeus saw the world. He could now see people in need, whereas before he only saw people he needed to fleece.  Zacchaeus immediately made a two-pronged pledge.  First, he pledged to give half his yearly income to the poor, and secondly, he pledged to return any stolen funds four times over. Jewish law only required restitution of the money plus 20 percent, but Zacchaeus thought 400 percent interest was more appropriate. 

Jesus changes how we see other people.  Jesus comes looking for us and invites us to a changed life, a life that is continually transformed into the image of Jesus. Has your life been transformed? If not, why not?

In Him,
Pastor Boyd

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