Tuesday: Rich and Infamous

Respectability does not always accompany wealth. Though many do earn their wealth honestly through hard work, industriousness, and the blessings of God, others are outright crooks. Even worse, some make their money legally but immorally, for not everything immoral is illegal, as we all know so well.

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

Compare Matthew 9:10-13 with Luke 5:27-32, 19:1-10. What motivated the criticism that Jesus faced? What does His reaction to the criticism teach us about grace?

Jericho, Zacchaeus’ residence, had become a significant commercial center and housed the Herodian palace. Because of its geographical location, it maintained a customs gathering station. Zacchaeus could have easily enriched himself legally as the chief regional customs officer. The narrative, however, suggests that greed induced him to overstep legal boundaries. Zealous patriots despised even honest customs collectors, seeing them as tools of their Roman oppressors, but they greatly disdained dishonest ones like Zacchaeus. Matthew (Levi) occupied a similar position in Capernaum, under Herod Antipas. Essentially having assumed the role of Roman governmental agents, they were viewed as traitors, or worse yet, thieving traitors.

Nonetheless, Christ was not deterred. Defying social constraints, Jesus dined with them, drawing intense criticism from priests and commoners alike. And, by Jesus’ interaction with them, these despised men were eventually won to the gospel, Matthew not only becoming one of the twelve disciples but an author in the New Testament!

Again, we should be careful about the kind of spiritual judgments we make about people. Though not all sins are of the same magnitude, and some are certainly socially worse (and with good reason) than others, all of us are equal before God in that we are all in need of the righteousness of Christ.

Think of some well-known but despised (and perhaps understandably so) personage in your culture. Imagine what it would be like if you had a chance to witness to that person. Would you even want to? What would you say?



Tuesday: Rich and Infamous — 12 Comments

  1. To have a desire for someone to be saved who mistreated you or others, in one way or the other, is only possible through the indwelling Christ. It is to have another nature - the nature of Christ.

    • Your right on my friend, In Christ, a new creation, to be born agan. Oh how I long to be forever, soon face to face I shall see Him, and roam no more...God Bless U.

  2. We as christians,we much show or share the light of truth that we have to those brothers and sisters who are still in darkness,we must
    show to them the glory of the lord through giving.

  3. Jesus is ready to save those who think that they are not righteous in front of our savior. They count themselves as sinners all the time and thus keeps on asking for forgiveness. But whoever thinks that he/she is righteous, then Jesus stays away from him/her.

  4. It is true that some rich people can be a pain. Especially those who have accumulated wealth in all wrong ways and always carry a certain air of importance around them making them detestable to their neighbors and even former freinds. Such people may also go ahead to mistreat others resulting into hate as it was with Zaccheus. However Jesus calls us to be not only tolerant to them, but loving and forgiving. This is the true test of our conversion and once we are able to do this, we can do alot more in Jesus' name

  5. "...some make their money legally but immorally, for not everything immoral is illegal, as we all know so well." This statement is such a deep and profound statement that I believe the author of the lesson should have expanded on it a bit more.
    At the same time I guess we all need to seriously evaluate our priorities in relation to where our treasure is really stored.
    I don't know about other countries but in my country no matter how wealthy people are they cry just as much as the man with hardly anything. The Bible is true that we have to be careful of the 'deceitfulness of riches'. No matter how much you have it never really is enough, 'just a little bit more would make us comfortable', that is what we fool ourselves into thinking.
    On the other hand, we have the assurance that if we put the Kingdom of God first all of our NEEDS (which are essential for our salvation) will be met , whether we are rich or poor in the things of this world.

  6. Jesus was not concerned with the lifestyle of many of society's outcast whether rich or poor. His mission was to offer salvation to everyone. Therefore he was not bothered or deterred by what the religious had to say. Christ came to call sinners to repentance. We too should not ostracize anyone because we are all sinners who are in need of a Savior.

  7. Sometimes God ask us to do the most uncomfortable task,place us in the the most difficult situations , just to prove us , knowing full well how we are going to react. There is a great responsibility place on the christian to do what is right, more is given, more is expected. All our efforts should be channelled in bringing forks to Jseus.

    • [Moderator's note: Please use your full name.]

      Poverty is not sin. what is sin is being lazy as illustrated in the parable of the talents.

    • One can be very poor in this world's goods no matter how hard he works but can be rich in things eternal. All that we ever long for and worry about, is but for a "moment" and passes away with this world or when our life is over. But when we rest in Jesus and His promises, the riches of Christ far exceeds earthly treasures. It is sinful to be lazy expecting to reap where we have not sown but there could be a blessing in being poor (that's the only way some of us can be saved...depending on Christ alone for our sustenance while hoping for His soon return.

  8. Forgiveness is key to walking with Jesus Christ; giving up of right to retaliate requires Christ's super strength. The rich and the wealthy may be a pain, but remember, they may still lack all the good things of life as peace, contentment, love, to mention but a few. Christ was not moved by their riches, but he reached out to them. As Christians, don't get entangled with jealous and envy about the wealthy and the rich because you're richer and wealthier than them by virtue of Christ that lives in you.


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