In today’s reading (Luke 19) we see Jesus go into the town of Jericho and of all the people there He chooses to spend His time with Zacchaeus. People always point out that Zacchaeus was an odd choice because, as a tax collector, he would charge people extra taxes that he would pocket. But that’s not the half of it.
Back then Rome was trying to dominate the world. This took a massive army. Their armies would come into a town and immediately kill people (dozens of people, hundreds of people) to show their strength and what would happen to anyone who rebelled against them. They would then leave some of the army there to keep control of the town.
How did they pay for this army? Through charging taxes of the people they had conquered. They would choose a few locals to be tax collectors. So the big issue with Zacchaeus wasn’t the extra money he took, it was the tax money he took. He was betraying his people. He was taking your money to pay for the men who killed your husband, your neighbor, your friend. He was taking your money to pay for the people who had conquered and killed God’s people.
That was Zacchaeus. And Jesus chose to hang out with Zacchaeus. Think about it. No, seriously, think about it.