Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tax Collectors

Social barriers and tax collectors. I'm thinking of the social outcasts this morning.

"He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way." - Luke 19:1-4 ESV

Once upon a time Jericho was a walled city. It is there that Israel marched around the city and blew their trumpets. But now Zacchaeus was dealing with another wall. People were his wall because he was short but also because he was a tax collector and it was a very unpopular profession for obvious reasons.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:43-48 ESV

The word perfect is the Greek word teleios (Strong's G5046) and it's root is the same as teleō (Strong's G5055). When Jesus said 'It is Finished.' on the cross (John 19:30) He used that second word.

...even tax collectors...
...what reward do you have?...
...function in the perfection of 'It is Finished!'...

It wasn't easy to be a friend of a tax collector. He could betray you and hurt you financially. Also others would put you in his category if you spent time together. Tax collectors had mixed allegiances. The taxes they collected were for Rome.

Walls. There are many kinds aren't there.

"And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.' So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.' And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.' And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.' " - Luke 19:5-10 ESV

Another wall fell in Jericho that day. Jesus blew his trumpet of love and unconditional acceptance and the wall came tumbling down.

There is a reward. It is behind a wall. Those we love are already on our side of the wall but there are others who need an invitation... not just 'everyone is welcome'... that wasn't enough. Everyone was welcome to see Jesus pass by in the street. The invitation is what healed Zacchaeus.


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