Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 96; 147:1-11, Zechariah 12:1-10, Ephesians 1:3-14, Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus was a tax collector and a wealthy man. As a tax collector working for the Roman occupiers, he would have been considered a traitor by many (if not most) of his fellow Jews. As a wealthy person, he would have seemed like the enemy to many of the poor and oppressed followers of Christ. Nevertheless, he was determined to see Christ. Zacchaeus was also short in stature, so in order to see Christ, he climbed a sycamore tree to see over the crowd.
Seeing him in the tree, Jesus called to him, saying: “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” Many people began to grumble: why would Jesus be going to spend time in the home of a sinner? Zacchaeus welcomed Christ into his home, and promised to compensate fourfold anyone he had cheated (a common exploitive practice of tax collectors) and to give generously to the poor. Christ celebrated with him, because a lost sheep had been returned to the fold.
We can all be a Zaccheus. Our desire to know Christ may encounter many obstacles. Perhaps we feel guilt about our sinful past – or present. Maybe others try to stand in judgment between us and Christ. Others, more out of ignorance than ill will, may not realize their language, traditions, and expectations create barriers we can’t see past. And maybe we have shortcomings we can’t change. Whether people are purposefully unwelcoming or just ignorant, we must work with what we’re given.
It may not seem fair, but fairness is not something Christ promised us. If you don’t feel like the church is welcoming you – and that may be equally true for lifelong members as well as those who have never stepped foot in the door – isn’t it better to forge a path than cry about being lost? Christ welcomes any effort to be closer to him – from climbing a tree to facing our critics – by inviting himself into our lives. He doesn’t care whether other people judge or ignore us, so neither should we.
Comfort: Jesus doesn’t need you to be worthy, just willing.
Challenge: If there are obstacles in your way, don’t waste time cursing them when you can be going through them.
Prayer: Loving God, I will make myself available to you. Amen.
Discussion: Describe an obstacle you have overcome.
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