It’s all here, as a friend used to say, everything that is everything is all right here. And it is – way too much for a reasonable post. So what I want to do this week is give a few chapter headings and a few thoughts for reflection under each heading. You will have to fill in the rest this week. Grace & Peace…
Zacchaeus was willing to believe
Zacchaeus was rich, perhaps the richest man in town: the Mister Potter of Bedford Falls if you will, and more than capable of being Scrooge-like in his attitude toward others and toward God.
But he tasted all that this world had to offer and found it empty. There had to be something more, and he was determined to find it. He was looking for God, know it or not.
He heard about Jesus. He wondered if this might be the one he was looking for. There is no other reason any person would go to such lengths – climbing a tree – just to see if maybe…
Are we looking? Have we discovered the truth of this broken world, that it is empty apart from the grace and love of God? Are we curious enough to climb a tree.? Are we willing to believe?
Zacchaeus was glad to say Yes
When Jesus stopped and looked up at Zacchaeus, it must have come as a shock. The most shocking thing, though, was probably the sudden realization that while he was looking for God, God was also looking for him.
When Jesus called out to him and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house, Zacchaeus was thrilled. He climbed straight down and “welcomed him gladly.” Would we?
Listen. Jesus is calling to me and to you. “Here I am. I am coming to live in your house today. I am coming to live with you from this day on. I will stand beside you to guide and help, and I will listen to your words and watch what you do…everything you say and do…”
Are we glad to say, yes, dwell in my house?
Zacchaeus did not argue with the designation of sinner
Zacchaeus was a rich man who tasted every good thing this life had to offer. I know a lot of rich men and women. I bet you know some, too. But Zacchaeus also knew he was off track. He knew his love was for money, not God. His achievement was for himself and his family, not God. His drive to achieve greatness was for his own comfort and security in this world. It had nothing to do with the next world.
Zacchaeus knew he was off track with God. I AM NOT SAYING all rich people are off track with God, only that the eye of the needle is very small. Let us look at giving, for example, because Zacchaeus made all sorts of pledges about restoring to the defrauded and giving to the poor.
I am not sure Jesus paid much attention to what Zacchaeus said. The text does not indicate he bothered to hear. God is well acquainted with what enthusiasm can do, and how poor we all are with follow-up once the enthusiasm fades. Still, Zacchaeus was moving in the right direction – away from the sin that dragged him down – and maybe that is what matters most.
But what about us? Is giving our Christian duty, our obligation to God, and for the rich, is it right to give back some of God’s blessings? No. Wrong. As long as giving is a responsibility or an attempt to please God, we haven’t understood the first thing about it.
Instead, we should think of giving as an opportunity at the very least. A little enthusiasm might not hurt either. How about a little of, “Oh, boy!” *rubs hands together* “Look at all these wonderful things my money can do! Here, I can give more. I’ll be fine with less. Here, use my hands, too. You know, this is great. Who would have thought?…” So what about us?
Jesus seeks us where we are
Zacchaeus was looking for something… Jesus was looking for Zacchaeus. God is still looking for you and me, to seek and save the lost, but trust me, he knows where to find us… But Zacchaeus was willing to believe, he said yes to Jesus, he welcomed Jesus into his home and he had the courage and strength not to deny his sins but to confess them and try to make them right.
Jesus transforms us
Jesus is Lord (God, Immanuel = God with us). That is the first confession of the church. Jesus is our Lord and (as such he is also) our savior. Jesus is not our savior without being our Lord. Zacchaeus must have grasped this, by intuition, revelation, some gentle movement of the Spirit. I have no doubt his enthusiastic pledges were not mere words for an itinerant preacher and ragged rabbi. Zacchaeus knew full well he was making his pledges to God and for that reason, Jesus said salvation had come into that house…
Jesus is for everyone
Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham, too. He had the willingness to believe and the faith to act when the opportunity presented itself. All true children of Abraham are by faith; the same faith which God counted to Abraham as righteousness… So, today is also a day of opportunity…