I Can’t Stand Zacchaeus

by Erin Bird

Last week here on the blog, we launched a three-week series on the story of Zacchaeus (found in Luke 19:1-10). We first looked at Zacchaeus, seeing how we are like him in our selfishness, and yet how we need to be like him in his desperation to see Jesus.

This week, I want to look at the crowds. So go ahead and take 42.4-seconds to re-read the passage, then come back to read my encouragement for you this week.

The Judging Crowds

Remember what we learned last week about Zacchaeus: he was a Jewish man working for the Roman government as a tax-collector who took more than he should, pocketing the extra for himself. Needless to say, Zacchaeus wasn’t exactly invited over for dinner by his fellow citizens.

i cant stand zacchaeus2 350x196 - I Can't Stand ZacchaeusWe see their dislike of this man in verse 7. The people overheard Jesus invite himself over to this tax collector’s home, honoring Zacchaeus in the process. This cause the crowds to grumble. They saw Zacchaeus as the worst sinner of their community, and they judged him unworthy of having anyone over to his home, especially a famous miracle-worker like Jesus.

What stands out to me is that we are probably more like the crowds than we want to admit.

  • We see someone of a different economic status, and without knowing how they got into that situation, we judge them.
  • We get stuck behind someone going 10 mph under the speed limit, and without knowing what is going on in their heart and mind, we judge them.
  • We see a mug shot on TV or in the newspaper of someone recently arrested for a crime, and without knowing any of the details or evidence, we judge them.

I could go on. Unfortunately, the crowds of our culture judge people based on skin color, political alignment, gender, religious affiliation, geographical location, or even taste of music.

The Opinion of the One-True Judge

While the world around us (and in us) rushes to judgment of others, God has a different approach. As we saw in our blog-series on the Imago Dei, all people matter to God, including traitorous, thieving tax-collectors. We see this in Jesus’ words in verses 9 and 10 (which we will look at in greater depth next week). But Jesus accepts Zacchaeus. And so should you.

This is why God said through Paul in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” If God could lavish grace upon you despite your rebellion against Him, you can give grace to the Zacchaeus’s of your life. Because you never know if God is going to invite Himself into that person’s life like He did with you.

So let us live lives free of disparaging judgment over those we deem (or culture judges) as less worthy. Let us show honor and grace to our fellow Imago Dei-s, so we might love like Jesus loved and live like Him.