And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.
Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.
So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.
When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house."
And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.
When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."
Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much."
And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
I began to cry. The holy spirit began to speak to me about this kind of love. Jesus, the only sinless man, looks at this sinful crook and doesn't just say "you are forgiven sinner" or "I love EVEN you" he asks to stay in his home... a great sign of honor in Jewish culture. Because of this KINDNESS and love, because of this RESPECT and friendship, Zaccheus, out of his own free will, gives his money away and rights his wrongs... and gains salvation.
Jesus does not side with the crowd that calls this man a sinner, he calls him a son of Abraham, a son of the promises of God, someone created in God's image for HIS purpose.
"Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes."
On Mother's Day Sunday my pastor's (Brad Curry) mom was listening to him teach for the first time, she is Jewish and lives in Chicago. He didn't get up and yell about how Jesus IS the messiah or talk about how Jesus is the ONLY way into heaven or do anything to convince her of this. He simply honored her. He said that he had learned so much about God's character from his mom. He shared a story about how she showed unconditional love to his brother when he was addicted to drugs. He loved her.
NOTHING proclaims the gospel more than seeing the beauty in unbelievers. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, yes. But we were also ALL created in HIS image and that makes us precious and beautiful. If my sister would have looked at me while I was drunk 5 nights a week, smoking pot, and hooking up with guys and said "you are a sinner and need to straighten out your life, you are a mess, what is wrong with you?" I would have sunk into my depression even more. Instead she loved me again and again and again when I was doing some very UGLY things, she saw the beauty in me. She saw the God in me. She saw another worshipper of God in me.
This is a call for Christians to reach out to those in society that people grumble at and say they are not worthy of love, to love our enemies as ourselves, to surround ourselves with people our flesh would not normally respect and let the spirit guide us into loving them deeply.
Do I know that I could love my child's murderer? yes. Not at all on my own, anger wells inside me even at the thought. But I trust that the holy spirit's power would give me that kind of forgiveness and love, to pray for that man. A man who murdered, like paul. A man who murdered, like me when my sins nailed Jesus to the cross.
I want to love Joseph Kony, the man who leads the rebels in Africa who abduct all the child soldiers.
I want to love the men who abduct girls into sex trafficking.
Can you forgive and honor that dad who beat you as a child?
Can you not just reach out in pity, but befriend the guy who lives on the corner as a brother?
I want to see ALL people as PEOPLE....and not just love them out of pity or duty, but with respect and dignity and honor and true love and friendship for the Glory of Jesus Christ, forever and ever amen.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (rom 5:8)
how much clearer does the gospel get?