Connections to Change a Community

BY PASTOR DUANE SAYLER | NEW LIFE BEULAH CAMPUS

Connect means: “To become joined, to establish relationship.”

I want to share some thoughts with you from the story of Zacchaeus. There is a very good chance you are familiar with this story, and maybe you even remember the song as a child of this unique character and a certain sycamore tree. Take the time to read the scripture verses below and let’s see if we can look at this story in a little bit different way and see how one man made a connection, and that connection changed a community. 

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’ But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! 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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,’” Luke 19:1-10.

After reading this story there are certain facts we know about Zacchaeus, and also a few things we can assume because of his occupation and the time in history that he lived.

Zach was a chief tax collector at Jericho who was a Jew but he worked for the Romans. This tells us he was a boss, he was good at what he did and driven. He collected money from the locals, his neighbors, fellow towns people and gave it to the Government. So his connection with the local people was not good but his connection with his bank account was very good because it states he was wealthy.

We can also assume since it mentions his stature he maybe was picked on as a child, which leads us to believe he wasn’t well connected with the average citizen of Jericho. I also found it interesting that he was not isolated, since he heard about Jesus and his curiosity proves that all people no matter what their status, job or bank account have this common curiosity. “Who is this Jesus?”

Jesus came to Jericho, made a connection with Zacchaeus. It was personal, it was intentional, and it took time. The result of this connection was he reproduced himself in Zacchaeus. How do we know this?  Zacchaeus gave half to the poor and repaid those he had wronged.

Here are the things I would like you to ponder. Jesus impacted one person; this person impacted the poor and the offended. By giving half of what he had away to the poor, these citizens of Jericho where touched with love in a real and tangible way, and I assume they were very open to the story about how this man met Jesus.

And then there is the offended, those who Zacchaeus had mistreated by his occupation. Think of how their hearts would be changed by the action of one making amends where he had wronged. This not only would be a topic of conversation around their dinner table but also of all the local coffee shops. Consider the buzz around town, all because one man— Jesus, intentionally made a connection with a purpose with another man.

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But before we bring this to a close I want to chat briefly about “the crowd muttered.” I find it interesting that the crowd that muttered when Jesus went home with Zacchaeus had lived next door to him most of their lives and had little impact on him. I think the lesson here is obvious: be that person that connects and brings about positive change in those around you instead of muttering about them.

Connections take time and you have to be intentional, but connections can change a community.

Pastor Duane