Today we hear of a man called Zacheus, it is the only time we will ever hear of him. After this he disappears from the pages of the new testament and from history. We don’t hear if he goes back to his old ways, whether he makes good on his promise to return the money he has stolen and his promise to return more besides. We don’t know if the people like him any better. We don’t know if he ever meets Jesus again or becomes part of a large crowd of people who follow him.
These are questions that the new testament doesn’t answer.
The passage does tell us some things. This is a man who is weighed down and troubled by what he had done in the past. This is a man who is ill at ease with himself because of his failures, money taken, bribes received, dishonest deals done. It all weighs heavily on him.
It tells us that he is facing a hostile and skeptical group of people. Their view is once a rotten apple always a rotten apple. Once a thief always a thief. Once a liar always a liar. They are skeptical of his desire to change, his ability to change and the reason for his change. “don’t go to his house, such people like that don’t change, don’t waste your time” is their advice to jesus.
But that is clearly not Jesus’s view. He takes time to speak to him. He goes to his house. HE eats with him. He tells the crowd he is not giving up on him, nothing lost that cannot be saved. Not for him to wash his hands of Zacheus.
Many people in life hold the same view as the people in the crowd. There are those who have crossed lines of no return. There are those who have made mistakes that cannot be undone. There are those who have said things and done things that cannot be forgiven. There are people who have committed crimes that cannot be forgiven. Why bother wth drunks or alcoholics or criminals, or people who have been a burden to their families.
Not so for Jesus nothing, there is nothing that cannot be forgiven, nothing that cannot be pardoned, nothing that cannot be saved.
How different a view that is from the world. Our world which has prisons in which people are locked up all their lives for crimes and offences that cannot be forgiven.
Our ability to forgive seems so limited, so small, in such short supply.
By contrast Jesus ability seems limitless, to have no restrictions. What a ministry that is to come to save that which is lost. That nobody else cares about, that nobody else is prepared to forgive or to show mercy. What a ministry that is!
There are many people waiting to hear his word of forgiveness, people in human prisons of great guilt for things done which cannot be undone. There are many who wish to be set free from chains that they have carried for years.
Jesus tells us that he comes to save that which was lost. In his book there is no sin that cannot be forgiven. Nothing so bad which cannot be pardoned. That’s got to be good news.