The Son of Man has come to seek out and save sinners. We can answer him because he is the first to call us to repentance and salvation.
Zacchaeus badly wants to see who Jesus is. Never mind that he is short. Wouldn’t it be sad if those who call out to say Jesus is coming should now block his view? So, he climbs a tree to get a good look at Jesus.
Zacchaeus is a head tax collector and a wealthy man. But to see Jesus, he does not mind doing what a small boy would do. It seemingly does not cross his mind that climbing the tree is beneath him. But then it must not be new to him that people laugh at him and call him names. They, after all, consider him a great sinner, for he is a head tax collector, a lead collaborator of Rome.
So, it is not without cost that Zacchaeus sees who Jesus is. But what is decisive is not what he does and the jeering he suffers. Rather, it is what Jesus does and the grumbling he hears and bears. The key to salvation is Jesus’ call, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” It is his statement that the “Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
Were it not for that call, Zacchaeus would have been like other bystanders who see Jesus and then go away. If it were not for that statement, which means God loves all that he has made, Zacchaeus would have stayed lost. Since God loathes nothing, no one, that he has made, he does not give up on Zacchaeus. Nor does his Son.
Zacchaeus, by the grace of our God and Lord Jesus, answers the call.
Zacchaeus comes down quickly from the tree. Maybe as quickly as Peter and Andrew left their nets, and James and John, their boat and their father. And he receives Jesus with joy. He also right away makes up his mind to give to the poor and make restitution.
In other words, he is acknowledging his sins. Because of it he stands a better chance of being saved than the self-righteous who grumble against Jesus. He has the lowliness that draws God’s grace (SV.EN IX:530). Moreover, Zacchaeus is beginning to turn his life around. He is not going to look out for his interests only, but for those of others, too, of the poor specifically. Extortion is something he is giving up. Proof, then, of his repentance is the change for the good that is coming over him. And all this is due to Jesus’ call.
Lord Jesus, you call us to your Supper. As we recall your death for the forgiveness of sins, may we turn our lives around and pledge not to give up on other sinners like us. And make us reveal, rather than conceal, your authentic face.
3 November 2019
31st Sunday in O.T. (C)
Wis 11:22 – 12, 2; 2 Thes 1, 11 – 2, 2; Lk 19, 1-10