Consecrated in truth or sanctified by truth

Zacchaeus story

arun simon
3 min readMay 17, 2024

Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.” (Jn 17, 17–19)

Context : This is from one of the last chapters of John’s gospel which is called as the farewell discourses of Jesus. Jesus is speaking about his missions and making a prayer for his disciples that they remain one just as the father and Jesus are one. Now a question that can be asked is, what is this truth? It is surely not mathematical or scientifical truth though they have their own values in respective areas. I am not getting into a detailed biblical commentary, but truth points to the identity and mission of Jesus, which is invariably connected to my identity and mission. I wish to read this story along with the passage of Zacchaeus (similar readings could be made with many other interactions of Jesus with the people).

Zacchaeus was a tax collector, and was hated by the Jewish people. He cheated his own people. This is a reality or truth of his life, which he knew very well. This is the reality which many of his own people and their leaders repeatedly told him. Was this truth? Yes. But that truth was not much helpful for him. Or he was not able to experience that this was a truth that sets him free (Jesus said, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free). And the authorities and their words never really helped him to go further.

Now he has an encounter with Jesus. Jesus knew (may not be all the details of him) that he was a tax collector and was hated by him. Jesus didn’t remind him of his status or labels (the truths). Jesus told him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” The gospels didn’t put any other word in the mouth of Jesus, though people might have been grumbling. There should have been something in the way Jesus looked at him that Zacchaeus made a big speech of donating and redistributing his money. And yes, a transformation already has happened. Jesus says that the salvation has come to this house.

It is good to ask what is the truth which sanctified him, consecrated him or set him free? We can only make good guesses. But I think it is intimately connected to the offer of Jesus to stay at his place and of Jesus’ look to Zacchaeus. I would interpret that truth as “Despite everything you did, you are still the beloved son of God, or that I love you”.

Sometimes people can say, its not mercy, but corrections that can change people. But here in the above case, we see mercy (which is no way truth being sugar coated, but the truth in its highest authenticity) transforming and achieving beyond all the corrections or gaze of the authorities.

NB: It was the mass reading a few days ago and I preached a little bit of it on that day. But on the same day, one of my friend got the news that she lost an interview and she was upset. All is understandable. But then she made a startling claim that she is a failure. I could tell her so many of her successes, but that was not the point. Sometimes we get convicted by the minor truths and forget the major truths. Without that bigger picture, even a transformation of the minor truths are so difficult.



arun simon

A Jesuit with all the crazyness… Loves Jesus…Loves church, but loves to challenge too… Loves post modern philosophy & Gilles Deleuze.. Loves deep conversations…