“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 NIV)
Rejection he understood. He was well acquainted with ridicule. He had been teased about being short ever since he could remember. Growing up, he was always the butt of the jokes, the last one picked, and at the back of the line. He had never been part of the “in” crowd. And he definitely wasn’t welcomed in this crowd.
He had extorted most of the people in it. Well, at least, they thought as much. To this crowd he was a sell out, a traitor who turned against his own people for personal gain. Anybody who would stoop so low as to become a tax collector for the Romans just wasn’t fit for proper Jewish society.
Of course, Zacchaeus’ family of origin was anything but “high society.” He had not been born into money. He realized early on that if he was going to get ahead in this life, then, he was going to have to make his own way. So, he did. But, in the process of finding his way, he had lost himself.
Outwardly, he had made it. He was on top of his game. He was rich. Inwardly, he was poor – still the butt of the jokes, the last one picked, at the back of the line – and, not part of the crowd.
There was no getting through this crowd to sneak a peak at this teacher from Galilee. Ever resourceful, Zacchaeus went around the throng, climbed a tree, and perched himself on a limb above the mob in order to catch a glimpse of the miracle worker. He didn’t care that he’d most likely be teased about it. He was well acquainted with ridicule.
What he wasn’t acquainted with was being the first one picked. But, the Teacher was calling his name. “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I’m going to hang out with you at your house today.”
“What?!?” Both he and the crowd wondered in shock and disbelief, “Why would Jesus want to hang out with a sinner, a sell out – a lost cause?”
Because, that’s what Jesus does. He redeems lost causes. Zacchaeus had lost himself trying to make his way in life. Now, the Way had found him, and He was offering Zacchaeus life – and acceptance.
Rejection he understood. Acceptance, on the other hand, was something totally foreign to Zacchaeus. But, feeling this unconditional acceptance from Jesus irrevocably changed him. Love immediately transformed him from selfish to selfless, from greedy to giving, from having a hand in everybody’s pockets to being a helping hand to the poor.*
We live in a world of rejection where people trample over other people to become part of the “in” crowd. We live in a world of ridicule in which people mock, chide, and belittle through social media anyone who doesn’t agree with their worldviews or political leanings. All of this makes us feel secretly lost inside. We lose ourselves trying to find our way in life.
Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. That’s what Jesus does. He redeems lost causes. His unconditional, accepting love totally transforms us. We only need to accept His invitation.
Listen! Jesus is calling your name. He wants to hang out with you today.
© Paul R Downing
* See Luke 19:1-10 for the full story of Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus.