A Friend of Sinners
“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” - (Luke 19:5)
When Jesus came face to face with the greatest sinner in Jericho, He knew him and called him by name. He then invited himself to spend the entire day in the house of His sinner friend. The chapter tells us elsewhere that Jesus was only passing through Jericho. He was extremely popular at this time and His walk through Jericho was like a parade with the sides of the street crowded with people who wanted to get a glimpse of the famous Rabbi from Galilee.
We might imagine that the religious leaders would like to have entertained Him for lunch. To everyone’s shock and amazement Jesus declares that He will spend His one day in Jericho with the greatness sinner there. Publicans were hated in that day because they collected taxes for the Romans from their fellow Jews. And this man was the chief of the publicans and he had become very wealthy in that position.
We are told nothing of what Jesus and the publican discussed that day, but at the end of the day as they come out of the house the sinner announces that he will give half of his money to the poor. And with the other half he will restore 400% of everything he has taken from people unjustly.
One scholar put an interesting spin on this story when he suggested that Zacchaeus was the publican in the previous chapter of Luke who prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Do you know any sinners by name? Are you a friend of sinners? Do you think you should be?