Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Is It Hard To Show Grace To Some?

Luke 19:5

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

IMG_0301Do we have a hard time showing grace – showing love – to the Zacchaeus types in our lives?  The first few verses of Luke tell us some about him.

Luke 19:1-4 – 1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

Zacchaeus wasn’t JUST a tax collector – but a chief tax collector.  In Jesus’ day – Rome had some heavy taxes.  And they hired Jewish people to collect the taxes from their own people.  Most tax collectors were ruthless (they had Roman soldiers to help them collect) and corrupt.  If they were asked to get $500 (for example) from each person they could actually ask for more – and kept what Rome did not demand.  That was how they became wealthy – through their corruption.  Well – a Chief tax collector would be the one who told the other tax collectors what Rome needed (and they always put more into the figure for their cut).  So if Rome needed $500 a person (again – an example only) – the Chief tax collector might tell those under them that Rome needed $600 and keep the $100 for themselves.  The regular crooks – I mean tax collectors – would then ask for $650 and keep the $50 themselves.  You can easily see why the Jews quickly came to hate the Tax Collectors – not only because of Rome’s taxes – but because of their corruption – their sin.

The Jews hated them so much – they became a sinful category all to themselves.  Remember that Matthew was a tax collector.  Jesus met Matthew and called him to become a follower.  Here is part of that story – revealing how excited Matthew (Levi) was that Jesus called him and the Pharisees’ (Jewish Law makers/keepers) reaction.

Luke 5:29-30 – 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

Tax collectors and sinners!  Wow – these Tax Collectors were an evil bunch.  But Jesus reached out to them and fellowshipped with them.  Are there folks – Zacchaeus or Matthew types – that we have a hard time fellowshipping with in our lives?  It is easy showing grace to those who love us or behave as we think they ought.  It is a godly thing to show grace to all people – even the worst of them.

Plan now to attend the revival beginning Sunday morning on August 16 at both morning services.  Come and hear how grace was shown to Paul – the worst of sinners – and how this grace compelled him to act toward others.  Come and experience the grace of God – and let us grow together – learning to show God’s grace to all people.  I pray nothing like what happened in Charleston – S.C. – ever happens again or to us – but – if it does – I pray we show God’s grace the way that church and community has shown us!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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June 25, 2015 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , ,

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