Summary: The critics of sinner can never be the redeemers of sinners! Do we hate the sin and hate the sinner, too?
Hate the Sin and Hate the Sinner, too?
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 being a short man he could not, because of 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 what was lost."
hate the sin
love the sinner?
Or do we really
hate the sinner too?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his sermon, “Loving Your Enemies”, tells this story:
“My brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A.D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: "I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power."
And I looked at him right quick and said: "Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway."
Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the 22 civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the junkheap of destruction.
Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.”
Today we are looking at a man hated by everyone around him except one. And because that one refused to hate him, it changed Zaccheaus’ life.
Zaccheaus was a man with a reputation:
a reputation which he had earned - tax collector.
Zaccheaus’ name indicates that he was a Jew. But the Jews hated Him. They had nothing but disgust for the tax collector. Romans had military control over Israel and used Jews to collect taxes. To be a tax collector one had to bid for the position like you would bid at an auction with the position going to the highest bidder. In order for him to regain his investment he had to inflate the tax. This gained the tax collector the reputation for being notoriously unscrupulous. They also became quite wealthy at expense of their fellow countrymen. Tax collectors were collecting taxes for a foreign power. Robbers, murderers and tax collectors were classed together. A tax collector was barred from the synagogue. And Zaccheaus was at the top of his game.
Jesus also was a man who had a reputation :
friend of sinners.
1 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him.
2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Jesus was always getting in trouble with the “good” folk because he loved to be with people who were “not so good”. Now He is on His way to the last trip He will make to Jerusalem. He is going to Jerusalem to die. He is just days away from death. And he passes through Jericho, the city where Zaccheaus lived, which was one of the greatest taxation centers in Palestine at that time. The Romans had made Zaccheaus Chief collector of the Taxes for the prosperous trade city of Jericho, just 17 miles from Jerusalem.