Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tax Collectors…And Lepers

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.  And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  Luke 15:1-2
One thing Jesus was known for when He walked on this earth was associating with the people that no one else wanted to be with.  He sought out the lowly and outcasts.  Those were the ones looking for Him and usually much more open and grateful for His healing, acceptancemercy, and forgiveness.
Tax Collectors… Tax collectors were considered lowly and dishonest.  Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector for the vicinity of Jericho, was a dishonest man whose curiosity led him to Jesus and salvation. Ironically, his name means "pure one" or "innocent" in Hebrew. Because he was so short, Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus passing by. He was surprised when the Lord called him by name, telling him to come down from the tree. That very day, Jesus went home with Zacchaeus. 
Others noticed that Jesus was socializing with a sinner and began to whisper. Jewish people hated tax collectors because they were dishonest tools of the oppressive Roman government. The self-righteous people in the crowd were especially critical of Jesus’ interest in a man like Zacchaeus, but Christ was demonstrating his mission to seek and save the lost.
As Zacchaeus listened to Jesus, He promised to give half his money to the poor and repay fourfold anyone he had cheated. Jesus told Zacchaeus that salvation would come to his house that day. His repentance and his acceptance of Christ led to his salvation and the salvation of his whole household. 
And Lepers…
In Jesus’ day no disease was more feared than leprosy. It slowly eats away parts of the body leaving its victims deformed. Among the Jews, lepers lived in separate communities, away from the general population, so that others would not be infected. They lived solely on alms, leaving them poor. People, even their families, avoided them because they were considered “unclean,” cursed by God. 
One day when Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, He came upon ten men who had leprosy.  They stayed at a distance as they were supposed to and called out, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” By calling out to Jesus that way, they believed that He could do something about their leprosy. Jesus told them, “Go show yourselves to the priests” — as required by the law. As they went, they were healed. One of them, when he saw he was cured, came back to Jesus, threw himself at His feet and thanked him.
No one approached lepers or even got near them, yet Jesus took the time to stop and pay attention to them.  He paid attention to them and made them feel important, and then He delivered them from a terrible disease.  Jesus wants us to reach out and love the lepers in our lives.  We don’t know what seeds we are planting or how God is touching their hearts.  He changes people’s lives and heals their diseases - both physical and spiritual - and He uses us to change people’s lives in ways we may not even be aware.  
Jesus Christ came to save outcasts and lepers in His day and still today. Those who seek Jesus, in reality, are sought, seen, and saved by him. No one is beyond his help. His love is a constant call to repent and come to him. Accepting his invitation leads to forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.  Luke 19:10

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