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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.There's a great sermon by Ray Vander Laan where he explains what these verses meant to a Jew at that time (I can't find the lecture, but here is a synopsis of it that I found).
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.”
There are so many layers to this story and a lot to gleam from it, but the main point that Judah points out is this: when you meet Jesus, your heart changes. It wasn't a principle or religion that restored Zacchaeus, but Jesus. Who else changes hearts like that?
- Sinner is similar to calling him a "dog" - it's very derogatory
- Society teaches us that, before we can be accepted, we have to "make things right"
- We try to make our lives right and hide stuff for God - as if He didn't know everything
- God doesn't need our help for Him to love us
- God acts on his own
- Something we don't do - even in isolation, our acts are often considering the reactions of others (i.e. - tweets)
- Romans 5:6-8 - "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
- This is God's nature
- Zacchaeus is a guy who hurts people
- He is a Jew cheating Jews out of their money for Rome
- He is officially rejected from the synagogue and God's blessing
- Jesus pursues a friendship with him - these are the kinds of people Jesus hangs out with
- When Zacchaeus repents, he's excited!
- Jesus doesn't say he needs "Godly sorrow" or to be sad, He accepts him
- Jesus' friendship with people like this is why Jesus frustrates people socially
- In the midst of people's disappointments and Zacchaeus' track record, and after one dinner with Jesus, Zacchaeus' heart changes
- Zacchaeus gives well over what Leviticus required of him in repentance
- This happened when he met a man, not a principle
- It's love, not law
- Giving happens when you meet Jesus and He changes your life dramatically