Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Never the Same

Reading: Luke 19: 1-10

Verse 5: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”.

Zacchaeus is like many we see coming to Jesus. He is not popular. He lives on the edge or outside of society. He has few friends. He is looked down upon by the religious order and by almost everyone else. This tax collector is like others who came to Jesus: the lepers, the prostitute, the adulterous woman, the blind, lame, mute, deaf, the possessed… Zacchaeus has chosen his lot in life – one would bid for the lucrative position of tax collector. He chose wealth over many other things and over many relationships. He is where he is in life by his own choices.

How like Zacchaeus we are! We might not be tax collectors but we do often choose things ahead of our faith. Every time we sin – no matter how big or small – we are choosing self over God. Each time we make something more important than God we are elevating self over God. The choice is not limited to wealth or possessions. We can pursue a host of other things more than we pursue our faith. We chase after status and titles, after accomplishments and success. We can work hard so that others notice us or so that we gain that recognition. Yes, we can struggle with keeping faith the top priority in our life.

Zacchaeus heard Jesus was in town and wanted to see him. Zacchaeus was not looking to be healed or to have an audience with Jesus. He was curious. For Zacchaeus, yes, friends and some acceptance would have been nice. But life was okay. Wealth can make life feel okay. So can titles and recognition, possessions and status. Zacchaeus runs ahead of the crowd and climbs a tree just so he can see Jesus pass by.

As Jesus gets to the place in the road adjacent to Zacchaeus’ tree, he stops, looks up at him, and says, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”. The curious is captured by the curiosity. Life will never be the same for Zacchaeus. It was never the same for the lepers, the prostitute, … It was never the same for us. In this sense, we too were once like Zacchaeus. We were curious about Jesus and he eventually worked his way into our lives. Who do you know that is curious about or is searching for Jesus? Help them to know him today.

Prayer: Lord God, give me the words to speak today to turn hearts to you. Guide me by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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One Step

Reading: Luke 19: 6-10

Once again Jesus reaches to an outcast.  Once again Jesus looks past what is a barrier to others and lives one in need.  Zacchaeus certainly was not in need financially because he was a rich man.  Zacchaeus was in need of love and acceptance.  Because of his job, Zacchaeus probably spent life largely alone, without any real friends.  When Jesus calls out to Zacchaeus, many in the crowd grumbled with disapproval.  Zacchaeus’ ill-gotten wealth has drawn much dislike for the crowd.

At times we too act in certain ways and do certain things that cause others to dislike us or to remain at a distance from us.  Sometimes we can be like Zacchaeus, mistreating others for our own gain or purposes.  Sometimes we can fall into sins of other types, causing others to look down on us or to treat us like an outcast.  Sometimes we act in ways that cause people to think, ‘Jesus, don’t go near that one today’ or to think that Jesus could never call out to us.

Yet He does.  No matter what, Jesus always calls out to us.  He continues to call us out of our trees and into relationship with Him.  No matter our sin, Jesus continues to seek us when we are lost.  Like Zacchaeus, we are always just a simple confession away from a righteous relationship with Jesus Christ.  Like Zacchaeus, we are always just one step away from forgiveness and new life in Christ.  For this we say, thanks be to God.

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To Save the Lost

Reading: Luke 19: 1-5

Zacchaeus was a man  who probably had few friends.  We are told he was wealthy.  So he was probably ‘good’ at his job as the chief tax collector.  He became wealthy by extorting extra taxes from the people to line his own pockets.  He also likely collected a slice of what those working under him collected as well.  So Zacchaeus was not very well liked.  There is a reason he went alone to get a peek at this Jesus.

Just prior to today’s reading, in Luke 18 we find the story of Jesus’ encounter with the rich ruler.  He comes to Jesus seeking  to know how to inherit eternal life.  In their initial conversation he tells Jesus he has kept all the commandments since he was a boy.  In both of these things, he is an opposite to Zacchaeus.  But he is unable to do what Jesus asks of him: sell all he has and then come follow Jesus.  This man went away very sad; he was unable to part with his great wealth.

Zacchaeus finds a place in a tree because he is short and really just wants to be able to see Jesus as He passes by.  He is curious.  Zacchaeus does not go out that day to have his life changed.  He is content with his wealth.  Yet Jesus picks him out of all those in the crowd that day.  He calls Zacchaeus down and invites Himself into his home.  While there Zacchaeus is changed.  He admits his sins and joyfully pledges to make restitution to all he has wronged.  Jesus responds by saying that salvation has come to Zacchaeus’ house this day.  In what almost seems like an afterthought, Jesus says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”.  It is an answer to the crowd’s judgment of Jesus going to a sinner’s home and also a declaration for us.

In choosing Zacchaeus, Jesus is saying He will come to anyone.  After all, He came to you and to me.  Jesus wants to come into people’s lives today with the same intentbthat He came into Zacchaeus’: to save the lost.  Who will you introduce to Jesus today?