The Carpenter That Tears Down Walls
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
We're continuing on with our story of Zacchaeus. When Jesus got to the tree Zacchaeus was in, he called him down and told him that he was staying it Zacchaeus' house. All the people saw this and were shocked that Jesus was going to be the guest of a sinner.
In this first century culture, this would be absolutely outrageous. Jewish people didn’t associate with sinners. In this situation, there was judgment from the crowd on both Jesus and Zacchaeus. Jesus was judged because he was not only associating with a sinner, but staying in the house of one. Zacchaeus was judged because of who he was, a tax collector. Tax collectors were known for overcharging people for taxes and pocketing the money.
From the outside, Jesus and Zacchaeus were judged and looked down upon. However, between Jesus and Zacchaeus there was something interesting happening. The barriers that were supposed to keep them apart didn’t matter. Zacchaeus was having a Jewish person as a guest and Jesus was associating with a tax collector. When it comes to Jesus some of the barriers we have put up between ourselves and others become unimportant.
We all put up barriers against people that are different than us. Most of the time we feel like it is to protect ourselves. The Jewish people stayed away from those they considered to be sinners in an effort to keep them pure from sin. They were trying to protect themselves. What Jesus is showing us here is that the time for barriers is over. Jesus is calling us to reach out to those we like, those that make us comfortable, those that make us uncomfortable, and even those that we don’t like.
Take a few moments of quiet reflection to examine if you have been putting up barriers between you and others. What would it look like to imitate Jesus and start to lower those barriers?
Spend some time in prayer, asking God to reveal some of those barriers and for help in tearing them down. Pray for the Spirit to guide you in the ways of Jesus.