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 the lost.”
Jesus knew his days were getting numbered. He traveled to the city of Jericho. While there, he didn’t look up the local synagogue leaders or rabbis. The one person he chose to visit was Zacchaeus, one of Jericho’s biggest sinners. A tax collector, he had made himself very rich. When he heard this Jesus guy was coming to his hometown, even he decided it was worth checking out. Crowds must have lined the streets. He climbed a tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus.
When Jesus found Zacchaeus, he told him he was coming to dinner at his house. Zacchaeus organized a wonderful party, inviting all of his friends. Who were his friends? Fellow big-time sinners: cheats, prostitutes, ill-repute people.
Jesus wasn’t uncomfortable dining with Zacchaeus’ friends. This was the kind of people he usually chose to dine with. While maybe Zacchaeus didn’t quite understand Jesus and his mission, he was convicted of his wayward ways and publically announced that he would make right all of his previous wrongs. He saw that his cheating of others wasn’t the way he wanted to be remembered and wanted to correct it. For his change of heart, Jesus rewards him with salvation AND reiterates his life mission: to reach out to the lost.
As a Christian, it should be my mission to continue Jesus’ work. I am to reach out to the lost. Unfortunately, I have a hard time doing this. As much as I want to be unjudgmental, I just always can’t stop myself. I want to place conditions on helping others. Sometimes, I even want others to know when I help someone rather than just doing it humbly. How do I choose which lost people to help, knowing I can’t help everyone?
I often help the “easiest” ones and leave the difficult ones for someone else. I congratulate myself when I do a little, hoping that something is better than nothing. I justify caring for my loved ones and choose to neglect someone else.
What I’m saying is this: helping the least and the lost is serious business. It’s hard business. It’s not for the faint-hearted. It was Jesus’ mission. Will I honestly make it my mission?
Lord God, forgive me when I have not been very caring to the least and the lost. Thanks for patience when I looked the other way rather than dealing with a prime opportunity in front of me. Thanks for overlooking my selfishness when I could have assisted someone else. Broaden my “least and lost” box this Lent. Bring someone into my life that I have the opportunity to help. Amen.
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