Compassion. Relationship. A savior that changes lives.
Jesus did not publicly shame this person, Zacheus, living in very public sin. Oh, how the crowds would have loved that! Shaming Zacheus would have been a very public win. Everyone would have easily agreed that this was fully appropriate and needed. It would have been a widely shared social media post if that had been available, I am sure. So many self-righteous people willing and ready to call him what he was, a horrible person and a sinner.
Instead, Jesus demonstrated public compassion and had dinner to form a relationship. The crowd hated this. (All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”) If social media were available, this unpopular moment would have also been viral. Obviously, the Bible provides a record of how the crowd felt, so we know about this shocking event even 2000+ years later. A righteous teacher, savior, is going to the home of an obvious sinner.
Jesus did not take the popular route of public condemnation and shaming; he took the more difficult road, compassion with a relationship. A relationship with Jesus changes lives. It changed me, and it changed Zaccheus. There is no change in Christ without THE relationship.
No amount of public shaming or condemnation can accomplish what a relationship with Jesus can. Zacheus knew that people judged him for what he did long before this significant day. That knowledge of what others thought didn’t change his life. I wonder if he had a thousand justifications for their opinions.
Zacheus’s relationship with Jesus changed everything in a moment. Words of hate and condemnation could not do what a relationship with Jesus immediately accomplished, a life changed. True believers know that no one is shamed into change; only an authentic relationship with Jesus produces a change in our lives. A dead vine, unconnected from the source, does not bear fruit. Why would we expect anything else?
Want to know more? Listen to this podcast about the relationship we can have with Jesus, the person of the Trinity who left the perfection of Heaven to have a relationship with us and out of compassion suffered torture to provide our eternal salvation. Last week, the message was on the trinity.