Luke 19:1 – Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (NIV)
The religious people of Jesus’ day had a problem with reaching out to people who were not connected to the religious establishment. I wish things had changed in two-thousand years, but for many, this hasn’t changed. Jesus didn’t merely tell people that they needed to get to church, and the doors were open if they chose to go. He went to the people who needed a relationship with God. He entered into their homes. He built relationships with them.
Today’s passage reminds me of the story of Jesus calling Levi (Matthew) to be his disciple. The story is in Luke 5. We are told in that story that Levi was also a tax collector, and that Levi held a banquet in Jesus’ honor, and invited many of his tax collector friends. The religious people weren’t too happy with Jesus at that time either. Remember, tax collectors worked for Rome, and were judged to be traitors by the Jews. Jesus did not care what label the people gave, he sought out all people.
We are told in verse seven above that the people said that Jesus had gone to be the guest of a sinner. Praise be to God that Jesus sought out – and seeks today – sinners! All are lost without Jesus, for all are sinners. Jesus has chosen to have a relationship with you and I – sinners all. Like Jesus, we must seek out those who do not have a relationship with Jesus. We should never avoid anyone due to any label our world has given, for we all wear the label of sinner.
Today, let us open ourselves to all people, regardless of any labels.