Today we look at the story of Zacchaeus. Now this one most of us will know! This is the story of a man whose work sets him up against the crowd. He was a tax collector, a man who is ostracised by the community because they believe he is a sinner. Now Zacchaeus may indeed have been cheating the people and so helped to cause his separation from the community, but Jesus sees this differently. Jesus flips the script that Zacchaeus lives by when he invites Zacchaeus to offer him hospitality, completely unravelling the crowd’s expectations about Zacchaeus. And Zacchaeus responds with generosity, vowing to share his resources equitably, showing us a holy and joyful unravelling. This can speak to us in many ways. How do we look at those around us and see the presence of God and not just the perceived person who has a particular job? I think of the generalisations we make of professions. Just like Zacchaeus tax collectors do not get a great rap, neither to police at times, garbage collectors, manual labourers, those working in what we might consider to be very mundane and low skilled jobs. Jesus saw more in Zacchaeus than the crowds did, Jesus sees more in us than others do. As followers of Christ we need to see with Christ’s eyes as look at each other. And in seeing the light and presence of Christ in a person can empower that person to be all that they have been created for. It may mean a change in the behaviour and attitudes of the person; it may mean a change in the behaviour and attitudes of you. Jay Robinson Zacchaeus the Wealthy Tax Collector by Hannah Garrity inspired by Luke 19:1-10 | acrylic & ink on canvas Seeing, taking notice, acknowledging, lifting up – Jesus did all of these things as he looked up at Zacchaeus, calling him down, resting love and responsibility on his shoulders. I teach middle school art. I have spent this school year testing the waters. Each day I try a new collection of inputs for various situations. The most effective one is to stop in at every single student’s seat to have a personal conversation with them. In these conversations, I reiterate the assignment, glean information about what the student plans to do, and answer any questions. The by-product is positive productivity. Is it because I’ve shown that I care? Is it because I’ve clarified the expectations? Is it because I simply acknowledged their existence in the room? Is it because I saw them? Middle schoolers don’t realise that you can hear and see them from across the room. Their maturity level is simply not there yet. In this image, Jesus looks up with grace. A shimmer of gold on his skin represents the presence of God in him. He takes notice of a selfish, greedy, and immature adult. Zacchaeus’ actions make me think he did not mature much after middle school. By the standards of society, exhibited by the comments of those around him, this man does not deserve to be acknowledged. When he is finally seen, all of his immaturity melts away. He immediately rises to the occasion. Take notice, acknowledge, lift up. See.
- Hannah Garrity.