Date: November 3, 2019
In the gospel reading this week from Luke Jesus is passing through Jericho and many have come out to see him but so many are lining the streets it’s hard to tell. Zacchaeus, a local tax collector, is curious. He wants to see what all the excitement is about. So he climbs a tree to get a better look at Jesus. And rather than just seeing, he is seen. Jesus looks up and looks right into Zacchaeus’ heart. And what he sees isn’t pretty. Zacchaeus is an opportunist, grown wealthy by skimming and squeezing. He’s despised as a traitorous agent of Rome’s oppression. All in all Zacchaeus is not a likely candidate for God’s grace. But Jesus is the master of the unlikely. As he has done so many times before, he reaches out to Zacchaeus and invites himself into the tax collector’s home.
Why Zacchaeus? Why pick out this tax hustler for special attention? Surely in the whole city of Jericho there are many, many others more worthy of a visit. So not surprisingly the whole crowd begins to grumble. They had heard that Jesus was blessed. He was supposed to be special and here he wants to hang out with the town crook. What’s this all about?