A Culture of Honor, Part 3

The gospel should draw on the heartstrings of lost people, not beat them up with condemnation, guilt and shame. The gospel is good news, not bad news. Had Jesus not honored the much-hated tax collector, Zacchaeus, like He did; but continued to address him on the same course that the townspeople were accustomed to, Zacchaeus potentially would never have come to faith. His story is found in Luke 19
Note with me in verse 7 that the people were used to coming at Zacchaeus in a very dishonoring and self-righteous manner: “He (Jesus) has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” His reputation preceded him, and his chances for reconciliation and a better life were minimized. The Spirit of God, by all indicators, was dealing with the heart and attitude of that little man, or he would not have been there in the first place.
Something inside the tax collector caused him to show up that day when he heard that Jesus was coming; and desperation for life change drove that little guy up a tree! What was going inside this wretched tax collector went way beyond natural curiosity. Jesus would testify later concerning Zacchaeus that “Today salvation has come to his house…” (verse 9). Something supernatural was pulling at his heartstrings. Jesus Christ honored the much-despised man. He honored him by informing the unsuspecting loner of his dinner plans. What’s so significant about the Master inviting Himself to dinner? The Son of God loved him for WHO he was, not WHAT he was! Jesus showed him honor!
Believe me, this little man probably lived in a gated community, or at least a gated parcel of property with high fences around his home. He probably lived on the outskirts of town, where human interaction would be minimized. Where the taunts and threats of angry people could not be heard.
We can well imagine that nights were spent alone, and every night represented a new eternity for the little man who had no friends and the friends he did have were fair-weather – hearts as crooked as his and ready to sell one another down the river if it meant more corrupt wealth. Rome certainly did not care about Zacchaeus. If he were murdered, there were always others to take his place. Zacchaeus was disposable and a human target.
His dimly lit home would only intensify the darkness of his already broken life. Zacchaeus would later testify that money fell short of a meaningful life: “Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (verse 8).
The crowd that day directed a calculated slur against the Master when they said, “He has gone home to be the guest of a sinner” (verse 7). Comically, Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home for dinner! While this may be frowned upon in modern day life – viewed as socially inappropriate – the Master touched a heart-string that caused the little man to come alive on the inside. “You mean, you want to come to MY house tonight? MY house? You’re coming to MY house?” Jesus Christ, in a display of honor overlooked WHAT Zacchaeus did for a living to honor WHO he was! Jesus honored the man’s personhood. When someone honors us, we open our hearts to him.
In today’s church, if we will honor those God sends us, I’m convinced we will see more conversions to Christ than ever before. That’s why we at Hope Community continually stress servant leadership that places the needs of others over ours. People are frantically searching for significance. “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Do you know him today? Jesus Christ knows how to get your attention. He knows what pulls on your heartstring. He will address you at the point of what captures your heart’s attention and draw you toward saving faith. Jesus turns significance into salvation!



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