It's so blissfully unexpected, the way Jesus goes about enforcing the law. Think about Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector, a sinner with a capital "S". Everyone knew it. And yet Jesus chose his house as a dining place on his travels. It would be like Jesus dining with Donald Trump. Half-way through dinner, Zacchaeus says, "Wow. I can see that this Jesus is on a mission and I want to join him..... So I'm going to give half of my wealth away." It was that simple. We don't know what Jesus said to get him to that place. We know it wasn't a pyramid scheme or marketing strategy aimed at the wealthy. We can only assume they had fantastic dinner conversation and Zacchaeus was somehow transformed by the crazy love of God.
I think what happened that day had more to do with something inside of Zacchaeus' heart than anything else. Who of us doesn't know our own shortcomings better then anyone in the world? And when those shortcomings are brought face to face with the ONE who knows us better than we know ourselves - well then, that's motivation for change. Zacchaues knew something needed to change. And Jesus just loved him right through it. That's what Jesus ALWAYS did. With only one exception. (Cue cliffhanger music.)
The "notorious" sinners weren't the problem for Jesus. It was the finger waggers and law keepers who gave him pause. ANY time a keeper of the law or uber-religious person decided to speak on God's behalf - Jesus got really annoyed. It was like these law-keepers were so tightly wound that they couldn't open themselves up to that crazy love. All Jesus wanted was open hearts and lives. And all the law-keepers wanted was to bind people to principles, codes, artifacts of rigidity. Jesus wasn't OK with that. He wanted to set people free. He wants to set US free.
I think the bottom line is that we all feel the LAW in our lives, in our hearts, really. It's not our job to point that out to anyone - nor is it anyone's job to tell us just what our sin is and how to get rid of it. The law convicts our hearts. Sometimes it takes awhile - a whole lot of living, losing and trying. But it always catches up with us. Jesus just chases right after us with that great big love - and asks us to follow Him. And so too should we chase people down. Not with pointed fingers or copies of the Ten Commandments. But with crazy God love.
When I was a camp counselor - we had a saying that kept us going with really difficult kids. "Love 'em till they ask why." Why do we love you? Because God loves you. Crazy, I know.
10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."