What Difference Does Jesus Make
Okay, here’s a stumper: What difference does Jesus make?
It’s been a while, but I recently read about Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke. Here was a high capacity businessman who lived by the rules of his day. He was efficient, organized, and aggressive in his work. He was good at what he did. He enjoyed his success. He may have been a key player in the business community hosting business meetings at his house. He had done well for himself.
But something was bothering him, and it didn’t come into focus until he heard that Jesus was teaching nearby, so he searched Him out.
Zacchaeus, being intelligent and efficient, plotted Jesus’ course through the streets of Jericho and made a plan. Being shorter than average, he climbed a tree that was near Jesus’ projected route and took a seat on limb. As Jesus came his way, he felt an expected business-like thrill seeing that his projections were correct. He was good at what he did. Even better, he got more than he bargained for.
Jesus called him out by name as if He knew him, and He invited Himself over to Zacchaeus’ house. Zacchaeus did not object but freely opened his house to Him, and the rest is history.
By the time Jesus leaves, Zacchaeus’ eyes are opened to just how lost he has been and how misdirected his life had become. He could see for the first time the difference between what was good and what was evil, between what was good and right and what was wrong. And he was overcome by the beauty of God’s purpose for him.
He made immediate changes in his life to reconcile with those he had harmed by his greed. Zacchaeus pledges: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8) One never knows, but this may have sparked a movement for the reform of business practices among his associates as well. “9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:9-10)
What difference does Jesus make? He makes all the difference!
Everyone has their own particular weaknesses and bents toward sin which causes its own destruction to our way of living. But as we listen to and follow Jesus, He opens our eyes to see sin for what it is. He frees us of sin’s power – dramatically and sometimes slowly. And with every step, we glimpse a little more of the beauty of God’s salvation.
Yes, we have to fight against it in this life. I love to justify my bad mood and list the reasons for why I deserve to be grumpy. I struggle with the sin of placing my sense of value on the way I think others view my performance. And I’m guilty of pursuing peace by drooling over perfectly ridiculous things I can’t afford and I surely don’t need. And Jesus will continue to help me fight these sins until I’m totally freed from sin at my death or when Christ returns – whatever happens first.
In the meantime, I experience His goodness, and because of that, I am more able to identify and name what is evil and wrong and life-stealing. I’m more able to do what is right, even though it may not always be what I want to do. I’m more able to act justly and with compassion toward my neighbor.
Jesus has made all the difference.
Keep and Live the Faith!
-Pr. Dave Dahl