The story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, reminds us of the inner longing (whether conscious or unconscious) in everyone’s heart to be connected to Jesus. Verse 3 states, “And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.” Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector with many riches, but low social standing, has his longing for something greater than himself exposed. I imagine the crowd would not was not willing to let Zacchaeus to the front due to his deceitful tax collection practices. But still, his persistence was not to be denied. We learn in verse 4, that he ran ahead “and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him.” Like Zacchaeus, we may need a perspective change in order to meet Jesus. For Zacchaeus, it took the physical form, as his short stature prevented him from seeing over the crowd. But how often do we, metaphorically, get caught staring at the backs of strangers, and we miss Jesus’s presence? Fortunately for Zacchaeus, Jesus sees him and demands to visit his house. An encounter with Jesus is an opportunity for a second chance – for him, and for us as well.
We worship a God who is not afraid to eat with the sinner or extend a hand to the poor. Jesus offers a fresh start and renews our souls. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The church body can rejoice in the new creation, for the old is no more.
Zacchaeus’s sins were not unforgivable, Jesus offers second chances.
Often we think we do not deserve a second chance because of past actions, but Jesus forgives everyone who calls on His name. In one of Jesus’s final acts before his death on the cross he offers a pardon to the robber who recognized His deity:
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom," said the second criminal. Jesus responded, "I assure you, today, you will be with Me in paradise." (Luke 23:42-43)
Moments before the robber was to be separated from God forever, his soul was saved for eternity. In those final moments of agony on the cross, I picture Jesus whispering a prayer of thanksgiving even in His brutal undeserving death. The grace of the Gospel was on full display, and a convicted man received salvation. Second chances. We can take refuge in the fact that God offers a second chance to you, me and our neighbors. As a reflection of God’s unfailing love, let’s be a church free from judgment and condemnation, offering instead grace and new beginnings.