Summary: A short talking looking at how Zacchaeus and Jesus both did the right thing, even though in the eyes of those around them it was not the 'done' thing. Jesus in particular upset 'all the people' by eating a meal with Zacc. It was not the 'done' thing - but
There is a phrase from my childhood that has been rattling around in my brain this morning. Some might say it is rattling around because it is bouncing around all by itself with no other thoughts to keep it company! Yes, I know, we men are not too good at doing two things at once, but I’m pleased to announce that this morning I am managing to talk and think at the same time. The phrase that is rattling around in my brain is this: “it is not the ‘done’ thing.” It is a phrase that was used during my childhood to point out the error of my ways, especially if I was doing or saying something that was considered impolite, inappropriate or just bad timing –like most of my jokes, in other words!
We’re adults and we have recognised the difference between right and wrong. The right hand may not always know what the left hand is doing, but we know the difference between right and wrong. Jesus not only recognised the difference, he also applied the difference. He lived it out.
Jesus not only recognised the difference between right and wrong, he also applied the difference between right and wrong in every situation. In other words, Jesus always did the right thing even if it was not always the ‘done’ thing.
Zacchaeus, the wealthy chief tax collector wanted to see Jesus (19:3) but because he was a short man he couldn’t see over the crowds so he decided to climb a sycamore tree (19:4). Now, I have a problem here because I have a voice rattling around in my brain saying, “Zacchaeus, Jesus is coming. He is not just an important religious figure, not just the greatest storyteller, not just a fantastic preacher; he is the King of Kings and lord of lords, the Messiah. Get down from the tree. It is not the ‘done’ thing!”
In order to get to know Jesus, to listen to Jesus, to hear Jesus, doing the right thing may not be the ‘done’ thing. Getting up early, opening your Bible at the dinner table or on the train or in the bus may not be the ‘done’ thing but it could be the right thing.
When Jesus reached the tree (19:5) he looked up and (yes, you guessed it) that voice is once again rattling around in my head. “Jesus, that man is a greedy, wealthy tax collector. He is a sinner, a collaborator, a tax fiddler, and a swindler. Don’t talk to him. It’s just not the done thing. It is just not the right thing.”
Let’s not forget that the Pharisees and teachers of law, in other words the religious experts, had been known to mutter, “This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them” (15:2). As far as they were concerned it was not the done thing, indeed it was the wrong thing to have anything at all to do with religious law breakers. Is it just possible that in our churches today we would really prefer not to have anything to do with collaborators, users, abusers, fiddlers, swindlers, asylum seekers, fat cat bonus receivers, dishonest, untrustworthy, you name it kind of people?