The approach of Jesus to Zaccheus and to all such persons in the New Testament gives birth to a distinctively Eastern Orthodox understanding of the relationship between God and humanity. Peter Berger, the eminent Lutheran theologian and sociologist, puts it beautifully as he reflects on comments by Paul Evdokimov.
“Evdokimov suggests that Western Christianity sees the relationship between God and man as taking place in a courtroom – God is the judge, man is guilty, sentence must be pronounced, Christ takes the sentence upon himself, which allows God to forgive man. The entire transaction is judicial and penitential. By contrast, Eastern Christianity sees the relationship as taking place in a hospital – man is sick, sin is just part of the sickness, Christ is the victor over every part of this sickness (including death, which is the culmination of the sickness). The transaction between God and man is not judicial but therapeutic. It seems to me that this is a much more compassionate view of the human condition and its redemption.”