Posts Tagged Luke 19: 7

Tree Climbers

Luke 19: 7

When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

This is an interesting story about a tax collector named Zacchaeus. Not only was he a tax collector but he was a chief tax collector. Tax collectors were the most despised and reprehensible reprobates of the time. Jesus couldn’t have found a more despicable person. However, when Jesus looked up in a tree and saw Zacchaeus there, he immediately called to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Clearly the crowd was incensed that Jesus would soil himself with the company of a sinner.

We, however, have the advantage of several thousand years of perspective. We know that Jesus was more likely to be found with sinners than with the righteous church people of the day. In fact, the people Jesus showed great disdain for were the Pharisees. That is all fine and well and we can look at this objectively now. The one thing we do not seem to do, though, is to overlay this story, and others, onto modern times. So, I ask you, who are the Pharisees today? Who fills the role in modern society that the tax collectors Zacchaeus and Matthew did in Jesus’ time? When we go through this exercise more light shines on Jesus and this story. We begin to see the fullness of Jesus’ testimony through Samaritans and sinners. It also has a tendency to make us a little uncomfortable for fear that we can all too easily slip into the reviled role of the Pharisees.

This is the one case where you almost want to identify with the sinner. I think I would rather you call me a sinner than Jesus call me a Pharisee. The Pharisees were hypocrites and knew nothing about the love of God. You cannot know God if you don’t know love. The Pharisees were righteous in their own eyes but saw sin in others but in truth their garments were stained with sin. Zacchaeus hosted Jesus for dinner. The Pharisees didn’t. What does that teach us? If you want Jesus to sup with you, take off your Pharisaical robes and get real. Better to be a tree climber than a self-righteous Pharisee. Deal with your own sin and righteousness and don’t worry yourself about Zacchaeus and his problems. Leave that to Jesus. He is able.