All We Need Is Love
Chan Gin Kai
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.”
He was public enemy number one. No one likes a tax collector. And a chief tax collector? Terrible! One who has betrayed his own people by working for the Romans? One who has built his wealth by cheating on the poor? Zacchaeus was notorious.
So Jesus was passing through town and Zacchaeus “wanted to see who Jesus was”.
Perhaps his curiosity was stirred by the commotion. Or he might have heard of Jesus’ amazing reputation: healer of the sick, performer of miracles, and preacher of righteousness.
The infamously bad guy wanted to see who this famously good guy was.
Zacchaeus was short and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he climbed up a tree and waited for Jesus to pass by. He had no request to be healed or questions to ask the rabbi. He was simply curious to see who he was.
So it must have surprised Zacchaeus when Jesus didn’t walk right past him. Instead, Jesus stopped where he was perched and called out to him. Jesus even knew his name! And the biggest surprise of all, Jesus requested to be his guest!
This must have totally shocked him. There was no stern rebuke, no sermon on honesty, no ‘fire and brimstone’ call to repentance. Jesus simply extended a hand of friendship to him.
It was a great contrast to the crowd that loathed him and muttered against him. Zacchaeus would have been scolded by the taxpayers, rebuked by the Pharisees and threatened by the Zealots throughout his career. None of them moved him to change his ways. But when Jesus showed him love and believed in him, something in him broke. Zacchaeus’ repentance was immediate and radical.
Zacchaeus didn’t need another sermon; all he needed was love.
There are times we are uninformed and need to be taught. There are times we are neglectful and need to be reminded. There are even times our hearts are hardened and we’ll need a rebuke. But what we need at ALL times is someone to love us, and to believe in us despite our flaws and failures.
Are we more often uninformed or uninspired? I believe it is the latter. Are we more often neglectful or lacking in belief? I think it is the latter too. Are we more often hard hearted or discouraged? Again, it is the latter. So why are we so eager to teach, so quick to remind, and so free to challenge when faith and inspiration are what’s truly lacking?
Jesus’ approach to Zacchaeus reflected a totally different perspective and motivation from the others. Everyone wanted Zacchaeus to change, but why?
The common folk had a personal agenda, they don’t like paying taxes. The Pharisees self-righteously condemned Zacchaeus to feel good about himself. The Zealots hated his allegiance to the Romans. But Jesus wanted Zacchaeus to repent for his own sake. While others saw a sinner, Jesus saw a lost sheep.
What do we see in people?
Like Jesus, let’s extend our hand in friendship, and believe in people. It will touch their hearts and give them the strength to change. It moves me whenever someone does that for me too.
The truth is... All we need is love.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.