Let’s Be Friends

Luke 19: 1- 10  Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Man on Tree Many of us know this story from the familiar children’s song. I can hear it now: “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he . . .” But this man’s story is more than just a cute song. It provides us with an intimate look at Christ’s heart.

You may already know that tax collectors were considered the lowest of the low. The only profession I can think of today that might compare in status is the paparazzi. (So sorry if you are a paparazzi – no offense intended.) In that day, tax collectors preyed on the weak, they took advantage of people and exploited them for money. Yeah, they were wealthy. But nobody liked them.

The religious people, the holy, self-righteous people were indignant when Christ decided to go and have lunch with this man. I can just hear them. “Why, he could have chosen any of us to spend the day with. And he chose him. The nerve!”

But Jesus didn’t really care what they thought. Here was a man who was looking for Him. Here was a man who was so desperate to see Christ that he climbed up into a tree. Imagine! A grown man, climbing a tree just to get a look at a celebrity.

But Zacchaeus knew something was missing in his life. And he was hoping, just hoping that Jesus might provide a clue to the answers he was seeking.

Jesus did more than provide answers. He offered a personal relationship. That relationship changed Zacchaeus’ life.

And He holds out that same offer to each of us.

Jesus doesn’t care what we may or may not have done in the past. He doesn’t care who our parents are, or which side of the tracks we live on, or how many enemies we may have. He doesn’t care about the gossip and slander which may circulate around our names. And He certainly doesn’t care about what some self-righteous, holier-than-thou, Phariseical religious people think.

He just loves me. And He loves you.

He wants to be our friend.

And when we accept His offer of friendship, it will change our lives.

Dear Father, Thank You for overlooking my past and loving me anyway. Thank You for not caring about what others think of me – You love me even when no one else does. Thank You for being my friend.


7 Responses to Let’s Be Friends

  1. January 11, 2009 #

    Amen! And thank-you Jesus.

  2. January 11, 2009 #

    So, as a Christian leader, if a bar wants to befriend me on Facebook, I shouldn’t snub them for fear of what other “good” Christians will think of me and gossip about me?


    Realistically, do you think I wouldn’t take heat for it?

  3. January 11, 2009 #

    (((hugs))) MistiPearl!

    Robin, I think Jesus’ example tells us that loving people is more important than impressing the “saved.” As for being “friends” with a bar on Facebook, who knows? I can’t answer that. If you think there’s a chance to build some friendships there, then go for it.

    On the other hand, since it’s a group, not an individual, they probably won’t even notice if you don’t respond.

    Anybody else out there have an opinion?

  4. January 12, 2009 #

    I don’t anything about Facebook. But I know it takes discernment & wisdom (for which we must pray moment-by-moment) to know which relationships the Lord wants us to cultivate, which friendships He has ordained for us to feed & water & protect.

    And I know it takes genuine, sincere, godly love to cultivate those friendships for the sole purpose of loving the unlovely. I get ill in my stomach when I remember (in the past) how many relationships I tried to cultivate just so I could lead someone to the Lord. That’s manipulation. That’s using people. That’s having a hidden agenda, & people can sense when I’m genuinely interested in them & when I am targeting them for some “religious” reason.

    Jesus sought out Z. because He loved him. There’s a subtle difference, a barely perceptable line, between building relationships for the purpose of leading people to the Lord and building those relationships because we can’t help but love those people.

    Am I making sense? Jesus had no hidden agenda. He loved Z. and wanted a personal relationship with him. That’s all.

    Grace & Peace,

  5. January 12, 2009 #

    Yes, we are commissioned once and for all to reach out and yes, sometimes it is very hard. Be safe, be careful and love, love, love.
    My husband loves God as much as ANYONE I have ever encountered and in younger days that frightened me sometimes. In 50 years I have NEVER seen him snub anyone or turn away because of what others might think. What a legacy he will leave some day. I most certainly am no theologian but I do tell you what I have observed. I believe he will have many who say to him someday ” Thank you for loving the Lord”. I think Zacchaeus has just become one of my favorite songs. Thank you. Renae.

  6. January 12, 2009 #

    Great thoughts, Jean. You’re exactly right. When we try to befriend someone only to convert them, we become like the salesperson who invites someone over for dinner only to peddle their product. Yuck! I have had that happen, and I felt misled and used.

    Mom, you’re so right about Dad. He has had such an impact on so many lives, and he has never snubbed anyone because they weren’t “holy” enough. But you may not realize, YOU are that way, too. You love people simply because you have love to give, not because they deserve it or you expect anything back.

    I am very blessed, indeed.

  7. January 13, 2009 #

    Yes, love is what compels me to be friends with them. It’s caution of judgmental Christians that would keep me away. I went with love and relationship and pray I learn to ignore judgmental attitudes.

    And wow. I can’t even get “my mom” to read my blog. She has difficulty turning the computer on. When she gets it on she stares at the flashing colors on the screen waiting for the next program to come on. ;0) Just joshing. It’s not that bad, but she doesn’t understand much about technology. Rather than reading my blog, I’ll have to be on Good Morning America for her to watch me. (hmm, new goal?)

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