Episode ThemeIdolatry-Discerning: Sorting out the Messages We Hear.
A person must do what is right. He must be honest and tell the truth. He must not get rich by cheating others.
Do you know any cheaters? Anyone who always seems to get ahead by walking over others? If you ever want to meet a nasty but successful cheater, you've got to meet Zacchaeus!
Why was Zacchaeus so good at cheating? He worked for the Roman government as a tax collector. He would go to all of the Jewish people and tell them how much money they had to pay. But he didn't tell them the truth about what they owed. He would make the Jewish people pay more that they really had to pay and keep some of the money for himself. Everyone knew he cheated, but no one could do anything about it.
There was only one thing Zacchaeus didn't have: height. Most of his neighbors were tall, but Zacchaeus was short. That's why he had to climb the tree just to be able to see Jesus walking through his town.
Now if you were Jesus, and you knew that Zacchaeus was cheating his neighbors, what would you do when you saw him in the tree? Would you give him a lecture? Would you ignore him? Would you make fun of him because he was short? Most of us would probably be mean to Zacchaeus, but not Jesus.
Jesus told Zacchaeus that he wanted to come to Zacchaeus' house for dinner. All of Zacchaeus' neighbors thought that Jesus was making a terrible mistake. They thought that Zacchaeus was too nasty for Jesus to be nice to him. But after Jesus came to his house, Zacchaeus promised that he would pay back everyone he had ever cheated. Why? Jesus told Zacchaeus that God loved him.
Do you have a Zacchaeus in your life? A hurtful, cheating person that only Jesus could love? It's not easy, but Jesus tells us to love everyone. Ask Jesus for help; he's got lots of experience changing cheater's hearts into hearts that want to share. Just ask Zacchaeus.