(For reference, this message was delivered during Hopeland United Methodist’s drive-in church service during the coronavirus pandemic. This was done via FM radio at the Horst Auction Center on Durlach Road in Ephrata. It was also cold and rainy.)
In the last few days before Jesus’ final walk to Jerusalem, Luke tells us about Jesus’ encounter with the chief tax collector named Zacchaeus. Why did Luke include this information in his gospel? And why here? The answers to these questions contain a description of the extent and reach of the gospel.
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.”
New International Version, 1984 Edition