Hey You! Up in the Tree!
That Jesus! He always seemed to be getting in trouble for hanging around the wrong people. And Zacchaeus was certainly the wrong people. Zacchaeus was a tax collector and not just a run-of-the-mill every day tax collector but a chief tax collector. These men were considered traitors to their country by the Jews. In addition, they were rich. Not that being rich was a bad thing. The bad part was how tax collectors became rich, by cheating the people. Not nice!
Jesus comes to town and Zacchaeus wanted to see Him, see what all the big hoo-ha was all about.
Unfortunately, Zacchaeus was, well, a wee little man as the kids sing in Sunday School. The crowd was big and Zacchaeus couldn’t see over their heads or past them so, he climbed a tree, hoping to see Jesus when he went by.
Well, Zacchaeus didn’t just see Jesus, Jesus saw him. Jesus called Zacchaeus down from the tree and told him He was staying at his house that day! WOW! That’s when all the grumbling and criticism began. Zacchaeus was sinner (like the grumblers weren’t!) and Jesus should have known better than to associate with him. Jesus didn’t care. Jesus knew, no matter how bad a person’s reputation was or how deep their sin, it could never affect Him. Not because He’s Jesus but because of His faith, His goodness, His compassion for other people. Their sin wasn’t going to rub off on Him so He was never afraid to be with anyone.
Strange thing was, rather than their sin rubbing off on Jesus, His love, compassion and kindness rubbed off on them. After spending time with Jesus, Zacchaeus told Jesus he would give half his possessions to the poor and return money to anyone he had cheated. That’s quite a change of heart!
Sometime Christians are afraid to associate with the wrong kind of people. We’re afraid their reputation will affect us or their sin might rub off. How can we be salt in the world if we hide all the time in the shaker? We must be willing to lose part of ourselves when we go into the world, associating with all kinds of people. After all, we never know when we might spot Zacchaeus up in the tree!
1. Are there certain types of people you avoid in order to protect your reputation?
2. What is it about them that concerns you?
3. Are there types of people you tell your children to avoid? Not strangers or dangerous people but just regular people that might not be the “right kind of people.”
4. Is there anyone specific you work hard to avoid? Perhaps a co-worker that tells off-color jokes or a friend whose lifestyle isn’t in keeping with yours?
5. How can you be a more positive influence on the Zacchaeus’ in your life?