Our scripture today is Luke 19:1-10.
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
This seems to be a story about a sinner who repents, and while that is true, there is a deeper meaning here. Jesus does forgive Zacchaeus and the tax collector makes reparations and promises to live differently. My question is do the people around him intend to live differently as well?
We need to look at the reaction of the villagers in this story to get the full picture. Many are upset that Jesus goes to eat with Zacchaeus and proclaim their neighbor a sinner. The scripture doesn’t tell us if they change their opinion of Zacchaeus and accept him after he repents. However, Jesus tells them “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”, and that should show us all that we must accept them as brothers and sisters.
If Jesus forgives someone, we must as well. We can’t withhold our forgiveness when Jesus has already given them His. It may be difficult to treat someone differently when we know they have done wrong previously, but when Jesus offers someone mercy and a new life, we should rejoice with them.
Loving Lord, help us to see repentant brothers and sisters in a new way, forgiving them as You have. We have all sinned and have been the undeserving recipients of Your love and forgiveness. Bless us all to come to You and give us hearts of mercy. Amen.