ZACCHAEUS THE LITTLE PUBLICAN
32 AD – Guess Who’s Coming For Lunch – Jericho, Jordan River Valley
The luncheon was a grand one. Food and drinks were served in every open courtyard of Zacchaeus’ vast villa. Though his house had the distinction of being the home of the hated tax collector, it did not deter many of the town folk to eat his food which was openly provided. Jesus and his entourage with their host had finished their meal under a covered raised pavillion facing the already overcrowded courtyard. Zacchaeus, Jesus and three others were huddled together listening to a confessed story told by their host.
When Jesus smiled and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, the people began to mutter among themselves. Then a young Pharisee among the crowd, spoke out loud, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” [Luke 19:7]
Zacchaeus stood up looking at the grumbling crowd, then he looked down at Jesus who was smiling encouragingly. He came to a decision that had suddenly unburdened his heart.
“Look, Lord!,” He excitedly announced. “Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor.”
The people were stunned to silence. But Zacchaeus felt that he had to do more. He saw among the crowd the man that had bullied him and he took revenge on him by cheating him greatly out of his land. Zacchaeus went to him and said out loud, “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” [Luke 19:8] Then he reached out a hand. The man’s lofty demeanor softened and slowly he took his hand and shook it.
There was a smatter of clapping among the crowd still stunned by the tax collector’s declaration. But the clapping increased as Jesus himself came down happily laughing and clapping.
Jesus said out loud, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” [Luke 19:9,10]
But then the young Pharisee who boldly stood up among his peers challenged Jesus by saying, “Teacher, your teachings are inconsistent!”
Jesus faced him calmly. Emboldened, the Pharisee continued. “I heard you speak to a young rich man. He came to you and asked if he could enter eternal life. You replied to him, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ He declared he had kept them all since he was a boy. Then you said that he lacked one thing; told him to go sell everything and give to the poor; and then follow you. After which he walked away sad. You concluded with, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ Such were your words.” [Mark 10:17-23]
“It is not my teaching that is inconsistent. It is your conclusion that is in error.” Jesus offers no other explanation to the Pharisee who returned to his companions unsatisfied.
Jesus led Zacchaeus into the house with the disciples close behind.
“Master?” It was the disciple Philip asking, “What is the difference between the young rich man and our friend, Zacchaeus?”
“The young rich man’s problem was always his riches. His money was his idol… his god. And most importantly, he was without faith.” Then Jesus took Zacchaeus to the side.
“Zacchaeus, my friend, I must go,” Jesus said.
“Lord, I will follow you,” Zacchaeus begged.
“A time will come when you will. Stay here and be strong in your faith. Soon all things will be made clear.”
“Where will you go, Lord?”
“To see a young girl under a tree.”
I hope you are enjoying the 43rd segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
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Until the next post.
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