“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.'” (Luke 19:5)
Greedy people tend to be rather unpopular, partly because they can’t be trusted. Look the other way, and they might try to get more of something for themselves: money, possessions, power. We tend to avoid or exclude such people.
To the people in Jericho, Zacchaeus was detestable. He was chief of a network of tax collectors whose guiding principle was greed. They constantly overcharged for Roman taxes and kept the extra money for themselves.
But Jesus didn’t avoid or exclude sinners. Rather, as our text today says, “Jesus looked up” at Zacchaeus, who had climbed a tree in order to see Jesus as he came by. Then Jesus announced that he would go to Zacchaeus’s house — and that set in motion a radical repentance and repayment of all that Zacchaeus had stolen from others.
Eye contact is a powerful form of nonverbal communication. When eyes meet, souls connect. Jesus looks at each one of us — sinners by nature — and he offers love, forgiveness, and restoration. Do we avert our glance or do we fix our gaze on the lost people we encounter?
As Christ’s followers, we are his agents as we live and work among people drowning in a life of sin. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” — and he has passed the baton to us.
Lord, help us to see the lost and hurting souls around us, and to share your love and grace with them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.