Jesus Christ had many encounters with all types of people. In every encounter the person who experienced Him was never the same again. He encountered the people at the wedding in Cana where he turned water into wine. A boy who had two fishes and five loaves of bread and turned it into a meal for over 5000 people. A Gentile woman who persistently pestered Him to heal her child. A demon possessed man. A expert in religious law. A woman who had hemorrhaged for over 12 years. A blind man, a lame man, a man with a withered hand, just to name a few.
One day Jesus had an encounter with a tax collector who was considered among his people to be a sinner because he made his wealth by collecting the taxes for Caesar. His job was viewed as oppressive to the recipient because he requested money that many did not have or were unfairly assessed. Tax collectors where often known to even tilt these collection services in their favor and cheat people out of their hard earned money.
Luke 19:1-10 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 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.” Jesus said to him, ” Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Zacchaeus’ experience changed is life eternally and in exchange for this he decided that he was going to right the wrongs he had done in his profession. Many times when we decide that we want to change our lives for the better while we are excited for the future there is the past that looms over us threatening our worthiness of what Christ offers us. But this experience was a bit different Zacchaeus did not look at his worthiness however others who were in the crowd did.
Jesus Christ was viewed as an untouchable, holy being and was not to be associated with the least of them. However, if scripture is closely examined that is exactly who he came to give his life for, the underdog or those who need redemption. In fact he proclaimed this when he started his ministry on earth.
Luke 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, and to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Even though Zacchaeus was considered a sinner among them because of the duties of his job it did not cut him off from being able to receive God’s love through Christ. And I would suggest the same to you. Did you know that nothing or no one has the ability to cut you off from God’s love? Right now you have the opportunity to receive that love through Jesus Christ.
Zacchaeus may have been considered a cheat, a sinner, or maybe even oppressive but that did not stop him from being loved by Jesus. Today you have the same opportunity because not only did Christ do this then but He’s doing this now. In order to start all you have to do is say this out loud: “Father I believe that your son Jesus Christ died to redeem me from the penalty of my sin. I receive your Son as my personal Savior.” And now you are given the opportunity to live this new found life in Christ not focusing on the mistakes of the past but on the redemption that you received and now the mercy you can present to others because it has been give to you. As always I encourage you to get involved in a local church where you can learn more about this life and God.