“Zacchaeus: He didn’t measure up!”

Luke 19:1-10

Yesterday Jesus was approaching Jericho and in today’s text he is leaving.  We meet a man who has aligned himself with power.  He is a chief tax collector.  All his financial power and political connections do not add one inch to his stature.  He is short and he is probably unwelcome in large groups of people.  A crowd is probably not the place he wants to be found.  We were Americans in Kenya during the Embassy bombing and we felt conspicuous.  Our Canadian friend’s car was stoned and he was not from the United States, guilty by association.  Zacchaeus develops a plan, though.  He climbs a tree for a “bird’s eye” view of the celebrity, Jesus, who is leaving town.  Zacchaeus has discreetly placed himself to be safe and inconspicuous.  I know a lot of people who deal with Jesus that way.  Perhaps they don’t climb a tree but they get their religious fix for the week on TV or a pod cast or walk in nature.  People are afraid they might be labeled as radical or due to physical challenges do not want to enter our churches and create an embarrassing scene.  Perhaps it is as simple as a language barrier.

     Jesus again reverses the dynamics.  He stops under the tree and tells Zacchaeus to come down because Jesus is going to visit him.  How often do we try to be inconspicuous but Jesus sees us and calls to us.  Jesus approaches us and offers relationship.  “The crowd” mutters but Zacchaeus is flattered and welcomes Jesus.  We do not know if he just wanted the attention of being seen but we do know the encounter changed his life.  “Salvation has come to this house today.”  Zacchaeus offers to repay all the people he has wronged.

      So how does this encounter speak into our lives today?  Most of us are not chief tax collectors but most of us carry those skeletons in our closet, those labels that we just do not talk about in public and probably not in church.  For some it could be an addiction that rules life.  For others it is a struggling marriage.  Some of us know the burden of a wayward child.  Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we cover ourselves with social fig leaves and stay in the shadows.  Jesus is willing to socialize with anyone, warts and all.  Jesus sees us and invites us out of the shadows.  The scene ends with Jesus declaring openly to all, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  We do not need to hide for he sees and we can speak to him right now, just as we are.  WOW.  That is gift.  Blessings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: