More importantly, though, is that Jesus has his eyes on Zacchaeus. Jesus sees something in him that others do not. He spots Zacchaeus in the tree and then invites himself over to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner.
It’s Jesus’ self-invitation, though, that raises the eye-brows of the crowd. Indeed, it is Jesus’ self-invite that “offends” the crowd: “See,” the people grumble, “he is a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Not only does Jesus demonstrate bad manners by making room for himself at Zacchaeus’ home, but he also crosses a shameful-boundary by identifying with a person whose own actions were suspect. All of which is offensive!
But Zacchaeus is also offended by the crowds and its reaction to Jesus. Indeed, Luke tells us that Zacchaeus remains standing during all this, a sign that he has had enough of the crowd’s complaining: he defends himself by standing up to the crowd and by opening his pocketbook (19:7)! It’s as if he is saying: “Take that! I’ll show you. I am going to give half-of my possessions to the poor, and then I am going to pay back anyone I have defrauded four times” (19:8).
And in a matter of seconds we see generosity being practiced: not as some future financial plan, but as a change of heart. So much so that Jesus himself announces that “salvation has come to this house!” (19:8). Who would have thought? Zacchaeus, tax-collector, transformed into “son of Abraham” (19:9)! Appearances can be deceiving, can’t they?
It’s another way of saying that we really don’t know how the Spirit is moving among us, do we? Or how the Spirit is touching the person next to me or you, as the Spirit blows where it wills (John 3:8). Look at Zacchaeus! Who would have expected the Spirit to touch him?
How might the Spirit be moving us to share in a time of generosity, or working in us to change our hearts? How might we, like Zacchaeus, show extravagant generosity?
Pastor Andy Kinsey