Read Luke 19:1-10
First century tax collectors, by nature of their profession, were notoriously corrupt and made their living by stealing money from their own people. Zacchaeus and his fellow tax collectors were the enemy—considered the worst kind of traitors and sinners. And yet Jesus, when he saw him in the tree, invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner and became the guest of a sinner.
Jesus’ actions surprised and angered everyone in the crowd, but likely no one was as surprised as Zacchaeus. He knew that his cheating, stealing, and lying put people in poverty, but he was just doing his job. He probably didn’t think he was anybody Jesus would notice. That’s why he climbed the tree in the first place. And yet, Jesus moved toward him and noticed him on purpose.
Zacchaeus didn’t do a single thing but get curious. He took one step toward Jesus and the next thing he knew, he wanted to live his whole life differently. He went from outcast to accepted; sinner to saved; enemy to friend.
This is how much Jesus loves us. ALL of us. And honestly this unrestrained love might make us uncomfortable, especially when we think about Jesus loving our own enemies. But the flip side is that the unrestrained, unconditional, uninhibited love of God is also extended to us. His love is free and fully ours—even in our worst sin and shame.
Jesus told Zacchaeus and the observing crowd that this whole interaction and what it represented was exactly why he came. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost,” Luke 19:10. We don’t find ourselves. Jesus finds us and loves us just as we are. And accepting that love changes us.
Shame makes it hard to accept any love, but especially a love as unconditional as God’s. Do you believe God loves you?
What does this story teach you about Jesus’ approach to you? Do you believe he comes towards you even in your worst moments?
How has your life changed since you accepted God’s unrestrained love for you?