“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. 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 19:1-10
Following Zaccheus through this narrative is uplifting. It’s a beautiful story of how the Lord Jesus captures the small heart of a small man and enlarges it with faith. It tells of motives reoriented, fists opened, and a life transformed. But following the onlookers, “they” who would only stand on the fringes wagging their tongues in grumbling and their fingers in judgment, the story is shameful and convicting.
Jesus had come to seek and save the lost, but these lost were blind to their condition, and so missed His invitation to salvation. They were separated from the glorious story, because they were consumed with criticizing. They could not see the magnificence of what was happening because their vision was clouded with pride. They stand out as dark splotches on the periphery of God’s amazing, turning stubborn backs to the grace displayed before them because they counted the recipient of Christ’s favor unworthy. They asked ‘how could He’ instead of ‘why does He?’ They missed out the meal of a lifetime because of calloused, prejudiced hearts.
How often do we remain on the outside of what God is doing because of a grumbling attitude or preconception? Have we veiled our eyes and ears with smugness? Do we forgo what He wants to do with us because we’re too occupied criticizing those on whom He sets His affection? Are we better stoked by pride and self-righteousness, or envy, or disdain, than we are by His love and mercy? Are we so shallow we focus on the catty and spew caustic remarks instead of hushing at the miracles our Lord is working? Do we disdain God’s mercy to others ‘so dirty,’ and fail to recognize our own sinful affronts to His holiness?
What will it take to see Jesus for who He is, and others as He sees them, with eyes of mercy? What attitude or habit need I surrender, and how will I put Him on? (Romans 12:3; Colossians 3:5-10,12-17)
Lord, remove any shroud of cattiness and grumbling that veil my heart from You. Help me look for, long for, and behold the beauty of Your mercies to others and to me. Help me not miss the glories of Your marvelous ways. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)