Not too long ago, I taught about the simple but profound fact that Jesus is a friend to everyone. As soon as I say that, it can be very easy to totally agree at first. Of course he is; He is Jesus. But the reality is when we really see this though to the end, it doesn’t make any sense. Why would Jesus want to be friends to us? We are broken people. We have nothing to offer him. We hurt each other, and our lives are completely steeped in sin. Why would He want to be a friend to us? And the simple response to this is that He views friendship completely differently than we do. As humans, we view it as a contract… I'll be your friend as long as you contribute to my life, but the moment that contribution becomes negative, we end the friendship. So when we think about Jesus being a friend to us, it doesn't make sense. We have broken that contract time and time again. But luckily, Jesus doesn’t view friendship the way that we do.
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.”
This is one of my all-time favorite stories in the Bible, and it is a perfect representation of what I'm talking about. Jesus has no business being a friend to Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, which at the time was a synonym for a thief and a crook. But Jesus sat at a table with him. He was a friend. That is God's heart for His people. Even the end of this story is so encouraging. Through relationship, Zacchaeus changed everything about His life. That's the beauty of being in relationship with Jesus. I just want to encourage you today to be a friend. Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t view friendship as a contract, because Jesus didn't.