When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received Jesus joyful. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Luke 19:5-7
One of the things that catches me as I read through the Gospels is the different responses to Jesus. Typically they can be boiled down to three base emotions: mad, sad and glad.
- Mad–In Luke 4:16-30 there is the account of Jesus going back to His hometown just after His baptism. He picked up the scroll and read the Messianic text from Isaiah 61, and then said: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, “I’m here.” By the end of their discourse they get so enraged that they drive him out to the brow of the hill and try to throw him down the cliff. When we try to talk to some people today about Jesus, they get that mad too. They might not try to push us over a cliff, but they might threaten us with a lawsuit if we ever pray in public again, ending the prayer “in Jesus’ name.” Oh, that makes them mad.
- Sad–In Luke 18:18-24 there is the account of the ‘Rich Young Ruler.’ He came to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus told him one thing that he lacked to be really good, since that was what they young man was going for, was to sell all that he had. Verse 23 tells us “When he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” I have seen many people walk away from Jesus sad because they love other things more than Jesus. It’s usually men, because it’s women that I work with primarily. They get involved in relationships that they know aren’t pleasing to Jesus, and they pick that guy over Jesus. They would rather have a guy by their side, even if he’s not a good guy, than to wait for God’s best. For others, they pick sports. A friend’s son got more involved in hockey, so she quit coming to church because hockey tournaments took them away every weekend. They drifted away from pursuing a relationship with Jesus.
- Glad–In Luke 19:1-10, we see that Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully. He didn’t come up with excuses why Jesus couldn’t come to his house, he gladly welcomed Him in. And then Zacc repented, telling Jesus how he was going to repay everyone that he defrauded. What a joy it is to see someone receive the good news of the Gospel with gladness, and to see his or her life turned around by Jesus.
But there is another emotion in the Zacchaeus account that grabbed me today. It’s in the verses that are printed above. Luke 19:7 tells us when they saw that Jesus was going to Zacchaeus’ house they grumbled. We don’t know who the they’s are, but I can guess. It’s the people who have resisted Jesus all along–the establishment, the Pharisees, the religious leaders. I’m sorry it doesn’t rhyme with mad, sad and glad.
They grumbled. Was it the whine of the self righteous, judgy, I’m so good I don’t need Jesus religious onlookers? They are onlookers because they will never get involved, but only stand off from a distance and criticize. Grumbling looks like it wouldn’t be as bad as the guys in Jesus’ hometown that tried to push Him off the cliff, but let’s look at Psalm 78:17-21 to see what God thought about the grumblers in the wilderness:
Yet they sinned still more against Him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?”
God’s response: Therefore, when the Lord heard, He was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob, His anger rose against Israel.
We might not look at grumbling as rebelling against God, testing God in our hearts, demanding things of Him and speaking against Him, but it is. And it stirs up His anger, which never is a good idea.
In Matthew 23 Jesus delivered a series of woes to the Pharisees and religious leaders, telling them exactly what He thought about their self righteous ways. He said they preached but didn’t practice it, and that they shut the kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. They wouldn’t enter themselves and they weren’t allowing others to enter either. They were full of greed and self indulgence, appearing righteous, but inside were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
I want to have the same reaction to people that Jesus has. And I want to grumble at the things He grumbles at, not the other way around. The way I get Jesus’ heart is to spend time with Him, lots more of it than I spend on the influence of the world. It’s too easy to pick up that grumbly, judgy attitude about people and think things like, “They should just get a job,” or, “Who do they think they are?”
There is no end to the wrong attitudes I can have and I can end up being just like the Pharisees. Jesus said in Matthew 7 to take the log out of your own eye before you take the speck out of your brother’s eye. That pretty much knocks me out of opening a speck picking business.
The people that grumbled when Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house had a heart that resisted Jesus. I don’t want a heart that resists Jesus. Don’t you think it’s easiest to pick out other people’s faults when you’re trying to avoid your own? That’s one way to resist Jesus–deflecting to other people’s stuff.
So, no grumbling, speck picking, or resisting Jesus’ work in my heart. Not today, not ever.