If Jesus came to town, what crazy stunt would you pull to steal a glimpse of him? Would you camp at 10th and Dodge for a week, waiting expectantly for his limousine (or donkey) from Eppley? Roll out your sleeping bag at City Hall (surely, he’ll visit City Hall)? Climb a tree along Abbott Drive?
From my earliest days, I heard the story of Zacchaeus. Bordering on embarrassing, that wealthy, sleazy, height-challenged tax collector climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. Seeing Zacchaeus out on a limb, Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ home.
While not privy to the entire conversation (Luke chapter 19), we know Zacchaeus’ life changed. Having built his wealth on the backs of distressed tax payers, he determined to return four times as much to those he had defrauded and to devote 50% of his wealth to the poor. (Check his charitable donation record against that of your favorite politician!)
After Zacchaeus publicized his intentions, Jesus announced: “Salvation has come to this house.” Wouldn’t everyone donate 50% of their wealth to charity if only to purchase eternal life?
But Jesus rejected this perception, reflected in his words, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” Zacchaeus was lost and Jesus came to seek him and save him, to offer the gift of salvation. Zacchaeus accepted Jesus’ gift, evident in his joy and in his changed life. He neither changed nor cleaned up his life to gain Jesus’ acceptance. Jesus’ acceptance changed his life.
Believing in Jesus changes lives. I cannot make myself good, clean, charitable, or kind. Admittedly, some who claim to follow Jesus still cheat and defraud. Happily, my eternal destiny does not depend on the actions of others. Jesus alone changes lives. He changed mine. He can change yours.