“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.’ ”” (Luke 19:5-7, NIV)
The only thing I don’t love about the story of Zacchaeus is that I can’t read it without getting the children’s song stuck in my head for the rest of the day (listen here ). Some two-thousand years ago, Jesus entered Jericho and encountered this tax-collector. It happened around this time of year as the Lord was headed to Jerusalem…a week before Palm Sunday…two weeks before Easter.
I love this story for two reasons. First, as we know, Jesus was after the world (Jn. 3:16) and his own nation (Jn. 1:11). But you might not know that watching him. His wasn’t a national campaign. No book tours. No conference circuit. No viral blogs. No NYT best-sellers. He went after the world one individual at a time…person by person by person. In fact, Jesus ignored the crowd and stopped to talk to Zacchaeus. That says a lot about Jesus in my book.
The other reason I love this story is that it is accompanied by a celebration. It starts with the angels in heaven: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents…” (Lk 15:7)…but continues down here. There was a celebration at Zacchaeus’ house like there was at Matthew’s (Mt. 9:9-13), with Mary Magdalene and her friends, with the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well…the list goes on. The beginning of renewal – the budding of the Kingdom of God – like the springtime, is a happy time. It is a time to rejoice!
The story ends with Jesus’ closing remarks: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”” (Luke 19:10, NIV) It doesn’t matter who…and that is cause for celebration!
Celebrate Jesus today!