Zacchaeus was a tax collector who was unpopular among the people. When Jesus decided to go to his home, the people did not approve. “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner” (Luke 19:7). But Jesus’s decision to go with Zacchaeus produced a positive outcome. “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). Not only did Zacchaeus surrender his life to God and receive salvation, he also redistributed his wealth to those in need.
Jesus once stopped in the city of Samaria to minister to a woman who was an adulteress. His disciples were puzzled about why he was talking to the woman, as the Jews traditionally had no dealings with the Samaritans. After Jesus concluded his ministry to the woman, she ran to spread his message to the people in her town. Because of this woman’s testimony, many Samaritans met Jesus and believed and received salvation. ““Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him”” (John 4:29-30).
We see a similar narrative, when Jesus travelled to the country of the Gerasenes and healed the man possessed with legions. The man begged Jesus to allow him to travel with him. Jesus declined his offer and directed him towards another assignment. ““Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him”” (Luke 8:39).
Throughout his ministry, Jesus reached out to disciple those who people considered, among the worst of sinners. These were people who others had given up on, as being beyond redemption. What was amazing, was how powerful their testimony was in bringing others to Christ. Zacchaeus was an outcast among his people, because he collected taxes for the Romans. The Samaritan woman was won over by the realisation, that Jesus felt that she was worthy to be ministered to despite her failures. The man of Gerasenes had probably given up on being set free. His freedom first made him want to follow Jesus and then his testimony was powerful enough to transform a city.
Despite the history of these people mentioned above, Jesus considered them worthy of salvation. Nobody is perfect and no one is more worthy or salvation than another person. God takes no delight in the death of sinners, but desires that everyone would repent and have eternal life (Ezekiel 18:23). God created us all in his image and he loves us. Sin distorts the image of God in us and we have an assignment as Christians, to win as many souls to God as possible. “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared”