Today’s devotion was written by Aneel Trivedi.
“May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God.” 2 Chronicles 30.18-19
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. Luke 19.2-3
Today’s reader likely knows something about the tax collectors of Jesus’ time. Zacchaeus’s wealth was more stolen than earned and his role as the chief tax collector likely made him both very wealthy and very hated. He was both the beneficiary of a broken system and an outcast of the community from which he stole.
And so when the story of Zacchaeus eagerly climbing a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus is paired with the text from Chronicles, I am tempted to find some encouragement in the low bar of this type of “seeking God”. Because I too want to see who Jesus is as he passes by. I too might even climb a tree to see him, although I suspect my tree-climbing days are well behind me. I too have wealth and privilege as the beneficiary of broken systems. And so a pardon granted on this kind of low-cost seeking sounds pretty good.
But the gospel of Luke also reminds us that everyone who seeks will find (Luke 11:10) and Zacchaeus’ low-bar seeking was met by an encounter with Christ himself. Jesus entered his home and Zacchaeus was freed to not just stop stealing but freed also to make good on the ways his sin affected the community – he returned fourfold to anyone he had defrauded.
Zacchaeus’s move toward justice was not a requirement for his pardon, but his four-fold repayment to those he defrauded flowed directly from his encounter with Christ. Zacchaeus climbed the tree, but Christ found Zacchaeus. God’s gift changed Zacchaeus and called him into action.
Jesus meets us where we are and brings forgiveness and redemption – this is most certainly true. But an encounter with the risen Christ changes us, and through the encounter, God calls us into radical transformation.