What’s the need to see it if you believe it?

Jason Galloway

How different would you live if Jesus was your roommate? If he was your best friend? If Jesus followed you everywhere you went?

After coming across a passage I’ve heard 100 times the other day, I asked myself those questions, and it made my stomach knot up a bit.

The passage is one that all Christians know, and some non-Christians still may know: The story of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector in Jericho during the time of Jesus. In this story, Zacchaeus, a short man, climbed a tree in order to get a good view of Jesus as he passed through Jericho. When Jesus passed the tree, he ordered Zacchaeus to come down and said he wanted to stay at Zacchaeus’ house that night.

Now, being a tax collector during this time, Zacchaeus was known to rip off some folks here and there, and it was no secret that he sometimes took more money than he was entitled to. Once Jesus proclaimed that he would stay at Zacchaeus’ house, the crowd that was gathered to see him got upset and confused, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner!”

When Zacchaeus came down, he stood before the lord and said, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor, and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house… for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

The central message of this story is what Jesus says at the end, that he was sent to the earth to save the lost and heal the broken, not to seclude himself inside a comfortable ring of believers. And while that is a powerful way to show the importance of evangelism, my eye was caught by a different message this time around.

I am simply taken aback by the way Zacchaeus acts during this story. If you take away the fact that he’s a tax collector, and that he is widely known as a sinner, you would think he’s more thoughtful and deed-driven than Tim Tebow. A man who has become accustomed to wrongly taking more money from people than he is supposed to suddenly promises to give half his goods to the poor and pay back four times the amount he wrongly took from people.

I believe Zacchaeus does this mainly because he is staring holiness and righteousness right in the face. Jesus doesn’t even mention repentance, or eternal life, or anything for that matter. The only thing he says is that he’s staying at Zacchaeus’ house that night. Zacchaeus’ proclamation to give back is driven completely by the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As soon as Zacchaeus realizes who is watching him, he becomes filled with a passion for Christ and a desire for repentance.

But, of course, let’s not forget that Jesus sees us at all times and sees everything that we do. That brings me back to the questions at the top of this column. If Jesus was actually visible, if you could actually see him walking right beside you, how would you react? What would you do differently?

If you woke up every day with the mindset that he was walking beside you at all times, would sin and temptation be a little easier to overcome? Would you actually talk to him at some point, instead of ignoring him all day?

And here’s the most eye-popping realization for all the believers reading. Christ does not just follow us wherever we go, he lives inside us. The apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Jason Galloway is a junior majoring in journalism. This is the final column in his series.