Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This Rich Guy Was Different

Yesterday's reading showed Jesus encountering a rich young man who decided not to follow. In today's text, Jesus encounters Zacchaeus, who reacts much differently. Here's something I hadn't noticed:
1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.
Luke 19:1-3
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. But he meets Zacchaeus, who was a short man. Jesus invites himself to stay at Zacchaeus's house. But wasn't he just passing through? Obviously, he changed his plans. I find that fascinating.

Why did he change his plans? Did he see something worthy in Zacchaeus, or did he just decide to make something worthy out of Zacchaeus? Come to think of it, what if anything did he see in me? (Or you?)

Anyway, after Jesus invites himself to Zack's house, we don't see Jesus telling him anything more; the next voice Luke records is that of the tax collector:
8But 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."

9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. "
Luke 19:8-9
I can't help but compare Zacchaeus to the ruler we met yesterday:
  • The ruler walked up to Jesus and asked him something; Zacchaeus only wanted to see.
  • The ruler had kept the commandments and seemed to have a good reputation; Zacchaeus had a rotten one and certainly didn't claim to be a keeper of the commandments.
  • Jesus told the ruler to sell his possessions; he didn't tell Zacchaeus anything, but invited himself to Zacchaeus's house!
  • And yet the ruler went away sad, whereas Jesus says salvation came to Zacchaeus.
With that list of differences (they were both rich but there the similarities end), what's the takeaway?
  1. Zacchaeus had no illusions about his spiritual standing; he was bankrupt. And yet he found salvation. This reminds me of "Blessed are the poor in spirit."
  2. What Zacchaeus did -- giving away half -- was less than what Jesus told the rich ruler to do. And yet it was enough. There was some kind of change in Zack's heart. But the way he demonstrated it was with a concrete action step.
So what does this mean for me? Well, I think the thing is... if I say I believe in Jesus, that I accept God's way of looking at things, what do my actions show of those beliefs? Something to think about.

No comments: