This morning it occurred to me that the Gospel of Luke tells a delightful story about Jesus’ encounter with a 1% Wall-Street-type rich man.
Jesus was passing through Jericho. A man named Zacchaeus was there. He was the director of tax collectors, and he was rich. (We’re traditionally reminded that these tax collectors acquired their fabulous wealth by extorting money from the “ninety-nine percent”). He tried to see Jesus, but Zacchaeus was a small man, and he couldn’t see Him because of the crowd. So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a fig tree to see Jesus, who was coming that way. When Jesus came to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down! I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus came down and was glad to welcome Jesus into his home. But the people who saw this began to express disapproval. (Maybe they made signs and occupied tents out in front of Zaccheaus’ house)? They said, “He went to be the guest of a sinner.” Later, at dinner, Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Lord, I’ll give half of my property to the poor. I’ll pay four times as much as I owe to those I have cheated in any way.” Then Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “You and your family have been saved today. You’ve shown that you, too, are one of Abraham’s descendants. Indeed, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)
The obvious truth lies in the details of how Zacchaeus was changed. It wasn’t shame nor legislation that loosened his purse strings, but the love of a man named Jesus. To my Christian friends tempted to “occupy” Wall Street, I remind you that the Kingdom begins not in anger and protest, but in love, witness, and the declaration of a new Kingdom.