Next week I am giving a talk, "What is so amazing about science? What is so amazing about Jesus?", as part of Jesus Week organised by a student Christian group at the University of Queensland.
In the first half of the talk I will cover some of the material in a talk, "Why is science so awesome?" that I gave earlier this year at Theology on Tap. It highlights how the success of science raises questions that science cannot answer. We have to look elsewhere for answers for questions about meaning and purpose. I find that Jesus answers those questions.
I will then look at just one story about Jesus that I think is amazing: his encounter with a rich man, recounted in Luke 19.
What is so amazing?
Jesus seeks everyone and can save anyone. It does not matter what your background and personal history. race, gender, wealth, education, social status, .....
Zacchaeus would have been despised as a collaborator of the Roman rulers and an exploiter of people, extracting as much money as he could. The crowd was right. He was a sinner. Yet that did not matter to Jesus.
On the other hand, Zacchaeus humbled himself in order to seek out Jesus. Today you rarely see rich and powerful people running through the streets, climbing trees, making public apologies seeking restitution, and giving away half their money. This reflects Jesus charisma. He inspires people to totally change and do radical things. Jesus still does that today.
The story can be contrasted to that in Luke 18:18-30 concerning the rich young ruler who would not give up his wealth to follow Jesus. Jesus said,
Here we see it can happen.
Who am I in the story? Zacchaeus or a member of the crowd? or both?
Jesus seeks, saves, and sanctifies (transforms).