Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

Friendship – Day 9

Jesus and Zacchaeus – unlikely friends

Bible text(s)

5When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to Zacchaeus, “Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today.”

Zacchaeus was rich, powerful and everyone knew who he was, but he probably did not have many friends. He was a tax collector, which meant he collected money for the Roman government and anything he could extort beyond that was his. He bankrupted people, he defaulted on loans and he seized people’s possessions. It is no surprise that no one liked him.

With this in mind, imagine the murmur that rippled through the crowd when Jesus publically invited himself to stay. Sharing a meal with people meant the same in Zacchaeus’ days as it does now – it is an act of friendship.

It is unlikely that Zacchaeus had much in common with the people who came over to his house, on the day he met Jesus. They had different jobs, they came from different social circles, different backgrounds, but their love for Jesus, and their desire to be with him and learn from him brought them together. This is what Jesus does for sinners. He calls us by name; he invites us to a friendship. He does not care whether it is socially acceptable and he does not do it to make himself look better, and neither should we.

It makes me wonder, who have I overlooked that God may want to position as my friend? The woman I usually ignore at the office? The man who speaks with an accent or may not speak my language at all? The poor, the lonely, the different-from-me? Let us look up from our comfortable circles and look out to a world that is so in need of a friend like Jesus … or like you and me.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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