A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him,
“Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 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.” Jesus said to him,
“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.”
I really couldn't decide which part of this story I loved the most. When Jesus told Zacchaeus (Zack-KEY-us) he would be staying with him - it was considered a great honor. Highly respected rabbis at the time would only stay with the wealthy, influential, or very honorable people in town. No one would have stayed with Zacchaeus, a dishonest thief. But it was exactly that gesture of good will that redeemed the heart of a greedy tax collector. One of the most amazing things about Jesus is that he loves us FIRST, no questions asked. We didn't see a relationship with him, and did nothing to earn his favor. But he pursued us and saw the very best in our hearts, despite our obvious darkness.
In the second half of the story, he reveals that this is his ministry: the finding and loving of the lost. If you are a hot mess, if you are stressed out by life's cares, buried under a bad habit you just can't kick, if you feel like there's more to life but just don't know what, if there is any part of your world that could use some help - Jesus came for YOU! There will never come a day when each and every tiny facet of yourself is 100% complete, that is, not until after we leave this world. So now and after that day comes - let Jesus pursue you and save you! That's what Jesus wants to do, what he's best at, and exactly what we all need.
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(Start at the beginning of the series HERE.)