Jesus Visits Zacchaeus
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Luke 18:18-42, Luke 19:1-28
BY Aurora Eagen
Scripture Reading: Luke 18:18-42, Luke 19:1-28
What a collection of characters appear in this reading: a rich and pious ruler who can’t yet give all, disciples who have already left home behind, a poor man with persistent faith in the Messiah’s compassion, a rich extortionist ready to leave it all behind, and a crowd following each step of the journey toward this fateful moment of the Son of Man’s ministry.
Each encounter is different and often surprising. We are struck by trying to imagine a camel shoved through a needle or a short man from his treetop vantage point being invited to host a famous person.
If “the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), then it seems there’s no formula. Jesus’s response to each is individualized. For instance, we’re not all called to sell all our possessions, but we all are called to find freedom from the perceived security of riches. We’re not all given our sight immediately; it takes the disciples experiencing what is written about Jesus before they see. We are all invited to see Jesus as He is, though, like the man begging who uses a messianic title and appeals unceasingly to the Lord’s characteristic compassion.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. Despite all the obstacles—other people, his limitations, his choices that had left him wealthy but unpopular—Zacchaeus found a way. When he does get a glimpse, he finds he is already seen and known. Jesus is not only ready to be with him, but willing to sacrifice His reputation to do so. Zacchaeus suddenly finds he is willing to sacrifice to be with Jesus too. The bond to his wealth is broken. A higher allegiance has been found.
In the parable that follows, we are reminded that our resources are a gift from God and are meant to be used. Indeed, to abdicate the responsibility that God has given us is to have a distorted view of who God is: harsh and abusive.
Jesus was nearing Jerusalem. Everyone was expecting Him to then take up His reign. Yet this parable reminds listeners that, while He has been given all authority, we are entrusted with responsibility and resources to care for His world as He would until He returns to reign.
Resources are not meant to be the source of our security, they are given to do business: God’s business. When they become used for our business alone, then we have begun to follow ourselves and not Jesus. Like we learn from the ruler inquiring about eternal life: we could never work our way into the goodness God wants to lavish on us. This surprising reversal of who is the fortunate one reminds us that there is greater wealth to be had than what’s in our wallets.
Written by Aurora Eagen