July 8 I Thursday
“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.” —Luke 19:5-6
Word that Jesus was passing through Jericho went around the whole city. People started pouring into the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious Man who had been healing the blind, the sick and the lame while He went around teaching about the kingdom of God. Among the crowd was Zacchaeus, a man too short to see Jesus from where he was standing, so he climbed a sycamore-fig tree to help his view.
What happened next came at a surprise to everyone. Jesus walked right to the sycamore-fig tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Up in the tree, Zaccheaus not only caught the eyes of Jesus, but also the eyes of the crowd. Then we are told, “All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner’” (Luke 19:5, 7). The word “mutter” is a polite translation of what was really going on. The crowd was actually livid, indignantly complaining. They had very strong emotions towards Jesus and what He had just done, basically saying, “Doesn’t He know whose house He is going to? Doesn’t He know how disgusting this man is? This man deserves God’s fire and judgment and Jesus is going into his home?”
We have to understand during the New Testament times, Jericho was a thriving destination. It was a popular destination for vacations and retreats, a great resting place for travellers who were making their way to Jerusalem. A large number of priests and Levites resided there in between their seasonal shifts. In other words, there was no shortage of good and righteous people that Jesus could have chosen to stay with from the crowd. Yet, of all the homes that Jesus could have stayed in, He chose Zacchaeus’s, a home whom some considered to be a part of the political establishment, and part of the problem of corruption and greed.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven....If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?” (Matthew 5:43-47). Basically, Jesus was saying, “If you are going to be a child of God, you are to love your enemies.”
Love is the calling of every believer. Against cultural expectation, Jesus demonstrated love by going to Zacchaeus’s home.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for demonstrating what it means to love our enemy. As a child of God, help me to love others as You love them.