“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? If you greet only
your brothers, what more are you doing than others?”
As a daughter of the Most High God, I am called to live on love’s highest plane. I am called to see others through the eyes of Jesus, to love them with the love of Jesus, to serve them with the servant’s heart of Jesus. As a professing believer of Jesus Christ, when non-believers or other believers look at me and only see the world in its apathetic, lack of commitment, wavering, it’s-all-about-me attitude, what does that tell them about my Jesus? It tells them that Jesus doesn’t care about them. It tells then that Jesus teetered back and forth on His commitment to His purpose on earth. It tells them that Jesus was all about Himself. If this is the picture others see of Christ after looking at me, then I need to be shot. I mean, come on- how absolutely, totally, completely wrong is this picture of Christ?
Scripture tells us that Jesus cared about those He met everywhere He went. Remember Zacchaeus? The little guy who climbed up in the tree because he wanted to see Jesus when He passed through town (Luke 19:1-10). I’d like to try to give you a clear picture of this whole encounter. Jesus is passing through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem for the Passover. There was probably a large group of people following Him and a large group waiting for Him in town. Some of these people were most likely believers; others were probably just curious as to exactly what this man who called Himself the Son of God was doing. They had, without a doubt, heard of the recent miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead in a town only about 15 miles away.
Now, look up ahead to that sycamore tree. See the little guy scrambling to get up the tree before Jesus gets there? That would be the man Zacchaeus. He is the chief tax collector- not just the run-of-the-mill tax collector, but the chief, the big dog, the CEO of the Jericho Tax Company, Inc (use your imagination- it’s ok). Being the chief tax collector meant that Zacchaeus probably oversaw a large tax district, managing other tax collectors, making him a wealthy man. Tax collecting was not a very honorable profession. They were regarded, for a lack of a better word, to be thieves. I doubt that many people wanted to just hang with them.
Ok, so we’ve got this little guy who has run ahead of the crowd that’s following Jesus to climb up this sycamore tree because he wanted to see Jesus. Note what Scripture says, “he (Zacchaeus) wanted to see Jesus” (Luke 19:4). It doesn’t say he had a burning question or favor to ask- it just says he wanted to see Jesus. I wonder, was he looking for Jesus with his eyes or his heart? Finally Zacchaeus settled himself, probably on a limb that was hanging over the road. I bet his heart was racing with anticipation as he watched Jesus get closer and closer. I wonder, when did their eyes meet for the first time? Better yet, when did their hearts meet?
Once Jesus reached that sycamore tree with that wee little man hanging onto that limb for dear life, He could have passed right by. I’m sure He had other things to do. He had Passover to get to. There was a crowd of people by His side He could have preached to. But, what did Jesus do? He stopped, looked up in the tree, and told Zacchaeus to hurry up and come down because He had to stay at his house. Why did Jesus do this? Simply because He cared. Scripture says that Zacchaeus hurried down the tree and Jesus received him joyfully. I can just imagine they had a warm embrace and later enjoyed some great fellowship at Zacchaeus’ house.
Jesus cared. He cared enough to stop. He cared enough to speak. He cared enough to accept Zacchaeus in spite of what he was. He cared enough to dine in his home. I wonder, do we care enough to stop in the midst of our busy schedules and look outside the walls of our homes? Do we care enough to step out of our comfort zones and speak to a total stranger? Do we care enough about people and the condition of their heart to accept them no matter what they look like or smell like, how old they are or what their past might be? Do we care enough to invite them into our lives? People come in and out of our churches every Sunday. They come in and out of our places of business. They even come in and out of our lives. Do we care enough to do more than just greet them with a nod of the head or a quick smile? Jesus did- He cared enough about us all even to the point of death.