Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Showing Grace Is Not Always Easy

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_0435-0It is hard – at times – to show grace. There are people in our lives that we would have a hard time showing grace to I think. Do we have a hard time showing grace – showing love – to the Zacchaeus types in our lives?  The first few verses of Luke 19 tells 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 had fellowship with them.  Are there folks – Zacchaeus or Matthew types – that we have a hard time having fellowship 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 (us).

With the horrible acts around the globe – like the mass killing in Orlando – we are faced – daily – with the call of God to love even our enemies. Here’s what Jesus said about this subject. Matthew 5:43–48 – 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor  and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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

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June 21, 2016 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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