Jesus calls Zacchaeus

"I've come, I've sought, and now I shall save."

Different people have different ideas of what being a Christian entails: going to church every Sunday; getting baptised; following the ten commandments; subscribing to creationism; being pro-life; listening to the Pope…Hm. It seems to go on.

For me, Christianity is a very, very simple idea. In fact, it is so simple that it slips out of my mind far too often. Yet whenever I am reminded of it, its power is still so raw and so awesome that I feel like I’ve been hit with a tonne of bricks – again.

Today’s sermon served me such a reminder. The passage is from Luke, easily my favourite Gospel:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

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.’ “

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

And here we have it – the single, most powerful idea of Christianity: the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost. It wasn’t by accident that Jesus went into Jericho. It wasn’t by accident that he stopped by the fig tree that Zacchaeus was on. Jesus looked up, called out to Zacchaeus, and demanded to enter his life – on purpose.

And the response of Zacchaeus was to conduct an about-turn from what he had been before. The moment Jesus accepted him, he turned from corrupt swindler to humble philanthropist.

The idea of Christianity is so simple, yet it is so much more – it is a truly amazing, life-changing idea. A person who has been touched by Jesus should have executed a 180-degree turn in the direction of their life. Have our lives been touched by Jesus? Have we made a U-turn and turned to face God?