Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Wee Little Man.

Luke 19:1-10

Today we hear the story of Jesus once more with a tax collector. This one seems to have a few twists and turns however. Jesus plans on going through Jericho. In the first line it says that he plans on passing through – yet he doesn't. He stays the evening with Zacchaeus and eats with him. What happens that changes Jesus' plans? Why?

We hear about Zacchaeus who is the chief tax collector. He knows about Jesus and is so excited that he completely abandons all of the natural social norms. He is so despised despite his great wealth in the Jewish society that they won't let him through the crowd to glimpse Jesus. They won't let him in. They won't even let him through. So he runs ahead – which a man would never do, a rich man especially as this opens up for all sorts of criticism. Not only does he embrace himself to run ahead of where Jesus was going to be but he also climbs a Sycamore tree! How much more humiliating do you want to get for a man of his wealth and stature. He humbles himself completely in order to see Jesus.

Jesus stops what he is doing and calls him down. He tells him that he is going to stay at his house. This enrages the people. The hated tax collector, the one that they think or think they know has cheated them and works for the horrid Romans. This man that just made a fool of himself before the entire town is the one Jesus is choosing to eat with. Jesus puts them in an uncomfortable place. They love and respect Jesus as a healer and teacher, yet they hate the Romans and the tax collectors. They have to forgive Zacchaeus or they have to reject Jesus. The grumbled.

Do you ever grumble? Do you complain? Moan? Do you get annoyed and say some harsh things under your breath? How about grumbling when things don’t' follow your time line? When you think things should get done? What about when someone hurts your feelings? Your pride? Your honor? What about people you just don't agree with? It is a very human thing, especially when we are being challenged by God. We grumble, we mumble, we complain.

Here is the deal though, we are called to try and be like Jesus, so that we can live out his love with others and share the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Notice Jesus does not shame Zacchaeus. He does not mention his job. He does not mention what he does not like. He rejoices in Zaccheaeus, he dines with him which means he accepted him just as he was. He forgave him. He forced the people around him to think about Zacchaeus differently. Jesus made a world of difference to Zacchaeus. Jesus opened up the gates of inclusion in this small Jewish community despite the grumbling. So how do you do the same? How do you forgive those whom you disagree with? How do you love those whom your community does not approve of? How do you rush to see Jesus even if it means losing your pride and doing the hard work of climbing a tree?

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