We have already arrived at the Sunday of Zacchaeus and hear the Gospel from the Evangelist Luke 19:1-10 which tells the story of Zacchaeus, a Jew who served as a tax collector for the hated Roman government.
It’s ironic that this lesson always falls during the time when many in our nation are beginning to prepare their own taxes. You can already imagine that his Jewish contemporaries considered Zacchaeus a man completely devoid of any vestige of religion, a man who most likely was aggressively selfish and consumed by worldly interests, unresponsive to the faith of their ancestors.
But as the story progresses it seems Zacchaeus had a keen interest in Jesus, not just a curiosity but the stirrings of faith, for what else would make a man of his occupation want to make a fool of himself by climbing up a tree just to see Jesus. There had to be a greater meaning or purpose, a desire to maybe change his life.
As the story continues Jesus stops under the tree where Zacchaeus is perched and calls out to him, “Come down from there, I want to visit you in your home today”. Astonished but responsive, Zacchaeus immediately jumps at the chance to talk to Jesus, which immediately causes gossip and angst among his fellow Jews. Why would Jesus want to visit the house of a Jewish tax collector and sinner?
Zacchaeus upon speaking to Jesus says to Him, that I will give half my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay them back four times. Wow! This is when Jesus says,” Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham!”
You see God’s grace can liberate any person (even the hard hearted), giving abundant life in Christ, when they are stirred by desire, decision, and devotion toward the person of Christ. After his conversion, I’m sure Zacchaeus began to rethink his life, his livelihood and most of all his relationships with people. In other words, after his commitment of faith he set off to correct his many spiritual struggles head on, confident that Jesus had accepted him in his sinfulness as a true son of Abraham, no longer resistant to spiritual growth and transformation in Christ.
His entire demeanor changed, and he was now willing to share with others what before he would have ignored. How many examples have we read about in the Bible who through Christ were changed? Better yet, how many people even in our own families have changed when they realize God’s abundant life. This gospel points out that Christ’s abundant life is shared with us both spiritually and practically, just look at the example of Zacchaeus.
We can change and yes those that for some reason have not been touched by Christ’s love can and will change, it may not be as quick as that of Zacchaeus, and may take time; however, all things are possible with God and that should be our prayer for them!
Patience, hope and transformation is what God asks of us and those we love. May this gospel lesson aid us in understanding those we love so that one day they may see, and we too, the great possibilities God can and does provide for those who truly believe in Him!