By Brooke Holt
“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’” Luke 19:5-10
Have you ever seen a life transformed by the Lord? I mean truly transformed? One day, someone is a notorious sinner; the next, he is a zealous convert of the Lord. Zacchaeus was that person! And what did it take to make that transformation happen in Zacchaeus’ life? Simply being seen by Jesus, acknowledged, and invited into a relationship. Zacchaeus knew well his own sins and shortcomings. He understood the effect of those sins as well. And after just a brief time with Jesus, Zacchaeus was ready to make things right in his life, even to his personal financial detriment.
Where the people grumbled because Jesus chose to accompany the chief tax collector to his home, Jesus delighted in Zacchaeus’ response. Jesus knew Zacchaeus, truly knew Zacchaeus, meaning he knew what he had done and was called and created to do. While the Israelite crowds hated Zacchaeus and would easily write him off as beyond redemption, Jesus knew the true story of Zacchaeus’ life.
Jesus set his love on Zacchaeus, and that love transformed Zacchaeus’ life. Not only would Zacchaeus stop stealing and cheating, but he told Jesus he would give away half of his earthly goods and restore what he had defrauded fourfold. Where many people may change their ways in the future, Zacchaeus took full responsibility for what he had done in the past and was ready to make it right. That is called transformation, which requires sacrifice.
Jesus changes people. Often critics of the church say we are hypocrites, judgmental, and harsh. As fallen human beings, we certainly will not be perfect. However, we are people who have been saved by grace and transformed by the love of Jesus. How, then, could we condemn? Instead, we are to live transformed lives, take responsibility to make things right when we sin, take the time to see others and believe the best about them, and invite them to meet Jesus.
Jesus is not afraid of peoples’ sin. He called Zacchaeus who was living a very corrupt lifestyle. Jesus came to set people free from their sin, transform them with his love and grace, and lead them into faithfulness. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (verse 10).
Are you following this example of Jesus, or are you following the crowds surrounding Zacchaeus that day? Are you quick to write someone off as beyond redemption, love, and grace? Transformation of lives results from encountering Jesus. Is your life transformed? Have you followed the example of Zacchaeus in making things right with those you have hurt or wronged? Are you allowing Jesus to change you from the inside out?
That is discipleship. In this world that says you are fine just as you are—believe that Jesus accepts you as you are and then transforms you to become what he has made you to be.
Are you willing to receive this transformative work of Jesus? What is he calling you to make right today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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