What Sort of Person Jesus Was
The Zacchaeus account, from Luke 19, with some notes throughout -
Then Jesus went into Jericho and was making his way through it. And here we find a wealthy man called Zacchaeus, a chief collector of taxes, wanting to see what sort of person Jesus was. That turn of phrase is simply perfect because Luke has only just told us “what sort of person” Zacchaeus was: “wealthy” and a “chief collector of taxes,” ie. the very best at extortion, intimidation and financial shenanigans. (Plus don’t forget how “wee” he was!)
But the crowd prevented him from doing so, for he was very short. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to get a view of Jesus as he was heading that way. This action is absolutely delightful! In the face of his circumstances – short and crowded out – Zacchaeus does whatever it’ll take, whatever embarrassment he might feel, in order to catch a glimpse of Jesus. What a model for our own journey after intimacy!
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and saw the man and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down. I must be your guest today.” And this is even more delightful! Jesus stops, looks up and chats with Zacchaeus, causing the whole entire crowd to stop and look up at Zacchaeus too!
So Zacchaeus hurriedly climbed down and gladly welcomed him. But the bystanders muttered their disapproval, saying, “Now he has gone to stay with a real sinner.”
But Zacchaeus himself stopped (Normally, Jesus would be the one to answer the crowd's “sinner” charge, but, here, Zacchaeus, enamored with what he’s gaining in Jesus, answers for Him) and said to the Lord, “Look, sir, I will give half my property to the poor. And if I have swindled anybody out of anything I will pay him back four times as much.” 50% immediately out the door, plus 4x the majority of his earnings must mean he’s giving away all he has. Zacchaeus’ life is destined to be the fulfillment of the “rich young ruler’s” earlier calling...
Jesus said to him, “Salvation has come to this house today! Zacchaeus is a descendant of Abraham, and it was the lost the Son of Man came to seek — and to save.” Again in Luke's Gospel, Jesus uses the language of a sinner “saved,” plus the wording “salvation has come to this house today!” Which, again, shows the utter inadequacy of how we often describe personal salvation in our modern context. Zacchaeus never “prays the prayer”; he doesn’t know any deep theology; he knows next to nothing. He simply interacted with Jesus and then fundamentally reordered his reality because of that personal experience.
Is that us?
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