“All Rise” is a phrase we’ve all heard in a courtroom either in person or on television. One of my favorite things to do as a child was watch Judge Judy and similar courtroom shows with my grandma. I loved hearing the people’s disputes, passing my own judgements, and seeing how they matched up with the judge’s opinion. Growing up, I thought I would make a great judge, and most days I still think that, but that’s not the life God has called me to.
Have you ever looked at someone and made a snap judgement about them? We all do this every single day. We see someone and, based on their appearance, their expression, the way they talk, where they are, etc., we decide who they are. While this is a handy and important function of our brains, it can hurt us.
God doesn’t put limitations, restrictions, or stipulations on who he can save or who he can use, so why do we?
Jesus, during his ministry, went to those who wouldn’t have been our first pick to wear the banner of “forgiven”. There are countless examples of this, but let’s focus on Zacchaeus, whose story is found in Luke 19. Though there’s a cute Sunday school song about him, he was one of the most hated characters in Jericho and when Jesus reached out to him, it sent up a lot of red flags in their society.
“Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.
When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”
Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”
Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”
Zaccheaus was a crook and a swindler, loathed by society, akin to a mob boss or the leader of a drug cartel. This was not a nice guy, yet Jesus didn’t turn him away; Jesus loved him and shared truth with him.
What would our world look like if Christians went to the lost like we’re instructed in the Bible? How would lives change if we went to those people who don’t “look” like they would fit into the Christian mold? What would it look like if we loved and lived like Jesus did? Let’s choose today to love others well in small, practical ways.