Summary: This is a sermon about Zacchaeus' meeting of Jesus, it highlights grace and forgiveness.
Would you invite a sinner to take you to his home?
Reverend Daniel Panitz
Imagine that you had definite destination in mind while walking down a city street. Suddenly you noticed a crowd gathered around you and there up in a tree you saw an onlooker amongst the crowd. You recognized at once that this small man was the head of a gang that was stealing from the poor, and had profited much from his ill gotten deeds. He was part of a protected few government informants, who had bribed their local politicians for their protection, and who now thrived off the backs and hard work of the everyday guy in the street. You recognized him immediately. You even knew his name but you had never met him before. Then you called out to him, and to his surprise, he came down to from the tree overjoyed that you had recognized him. The crowd around you and him objected and began to think why in the world you would call out to such a desperado. To their even greater surprise you invited him to take you to his house. And indeed he took you to his home where the crowd, in total disgust followed. What they must have thought of you, a good man inviting a thief to take you to his home? Why would you, a respected man stoop so low as to invite this despicable, yet evil and powerful man to spend time with you in his home?
Such an incident occurred in the case of Zacchaeus the Tax collector, (Luke 19:1-9). Jesus was passing through Jerico where a crowd was forming to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was a short man who climbed a tree to get a better look at this man who called himself the Son of God. Zacchaeus was a tax collector and actually was the chief tax collector in Jerico. There was no doubt that he was a hated man and viewed by the Hebrews as a thief that took advantage of his Roman Position as tax collector by over charging them for taxes. Zacchaeus had climbed a fig tree in front of this crowd who hated him. What a brazen indifference he demonstrated. He could have just blended into the crowd or better yet just not come. But something drew him to the Lord something much greater than any fear he may have had from those that he had abused. This was a divine appointment he had with the Lord. When Jesus saw him up in the tree, He knew Zacchaeus by name and called in down. “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” said Jesus. Now Jesus did not say I would like to stay at the house of Zacchaeus. Jeus said He must stay at the house of this most detestable man. If Jesus is saying that he must stay then one can interpret that to mean that this was a divine meeting that should take place at the house of Zacchaeus, and because it was divine then it was God’s will. Now Jesus knew the name of Zacchaeus without ever knowing him. He knew him by name. Now we see the will of God at work. Jesus said he Must stay with the emphasis on the word must. Zaccaheaeus despite any fear of the crowd was drawn to Jesus, and was there in a tree, ready for his divine appointment with Jesus.