I often have trouble remembering names. Over the years, I’ve taught hundreds of students. Unfortunately, years later, I usually remember only the best students and the worst. I get frustrated when I run into former students in restaurants or stores and can’t recall their names.
Jesus, on the other hand, is good at knowing who he’s talking to. He walks by the sycamore tree in Jericho, looks up, and says, “Zacchaeus.” Zacchaeus is probably stunned. He’s being singled out by this well-known teacher who recognizes him and pronounces his name correctly before they’ve ever met. In this crowd of people, Jesus has his eye on an individual who is desperate for his care. His love for Zacchaeus is unconditional, undeterred by the past wrongs this tax collector committed.
Whenever we put people into categories, we overlook individuals and forget their names. This keeps us from seeing the person who lives with loneliness, the man driven by fear, the woman struggling with depression, the teen being bullied, the child who knows abuse. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is quick to stand at the side of the overlooked or forgotten.
Does this truth make us grumble or express envy like the crowd does in this account? Do we complain, “Why him?” or “Why doesn’t Jesus want to spend time with me?” What would it take for us to realize that we should be pleased that Jesus wants to be the guest of one who is a sinner (v. 7)?
Why is it crucial that the Creator of the universe cares about you and knows your name?
God, thank you for knowing the name of every one of us. Help us learn to love one another more like you do. Amen.