I will be there!
In Luke chapter 19 Jesus has a rather assertive conversation with a man of small stature. That man had climbed into a Sycamore tree for one reason; to watch Jesus walk by. Zacchaeus was rubber necking the chaotic scene as Jesus made His way through the frenzied crowd. For context, this is in the town of Jericho, Jesus had just healed a blind beggar as Jesus entered the city. Upon leaving Jericho, Jesus would mount a donkey in Bethany and make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem over palms.
This was the peak of Jesus ministry and He stopped to talk to Zacchaeus. It wasn’t a call to repentance; it wasn’t a healing or a teaching or any other miracle. It was an invitation (actually a command) that Jesus would go to eat at Zacchaeus’ home. At the time of the invitation, Zacchaeus was a known sinner, unrepentant and despised by all. Jesus didn’t wait until the crowd dispersed or for the protection of the cover of night to make the invitation. He made it right there with the whole town watching.
Zacchaeus, Hurry! Come down! I must eat dinner at your house tonight! Based on Zacchaeus response you are able to recognize that Jesus was calling him by name and letting the world know they would be breaking bread together which meant the world to Zacchaeus. It changed his earthly life and his eternity. The crowd would have been more satisfied if Jesus had pretended not to notice Zacchaeus and selected a more honorable home to bless with His presence.
Anyone can be excited to eat with the popular people, the accepted people. Anyone can sacrifice for a righteous man. But God shows His love for us in that “WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Before Jesus knew Zacchaeus would repent of his sin and restore the possessions of all that he had stolen, Jesus invited himself into Zacchaeus’ home, life, eternity. The account of Zacchaeus ends with these powerful words, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
My first encouragement for you is to give yourself grace, God’s love is far greater and mercy more generous than you are giving Him credit for. We are so hard on ourselves for the sins Jesus already paid for. If you feel lost, confess your sin, accept your forgiveness in Jesus’ blood and then live in His grace with peace and joy! Your lostness is the very reason He came to find you.
My second encouragement is to look for the Zacchaeus in your life. Who are the people that are easier to walk by or leave in the trees because of the chaos of life? Who are the people that God has placed in your path that may be less desirable for you or the crowd around you, but would be blessed to know you and Jesus both know by their name? When that person is revealed in your heart and mind, be bold to invite them into a relationship event with you. Be bold, and faithful. The worst thing that happens is that they say no. The best thing that can happen is that you get to be part of God’s mighty work.
The Zacchaeus in your life doesn’t have to be an unbeliever or hated by the community. The encouragement here is to think about who is missing, who hasn’t been connected to Christ and the family of faith for a while, maybe ever. Instead of waiting for them, let’s be bold and go find them. Hurry!
Below are a few upcoming special events that you can put on your calendar and pray for an opportunity to invite Zacchaeus, or just have him, her or them come over to your home.
June 31 – Family Summer Splash Party at Cross 11:00AM
August 21 – Blessing of the Backpacks and special family worship opportunity
September 2 – Hometown Days Concert (non-Christians love music too!)
September 7 – Faith and Family First night and launch of Wednesday night ministries
September 11 – Return of Sunday morning children and family ministries
September 11 – Launch of our fall series The Being Challenge from the author of Red Letter Challenge. Look for more information to come later but be thinking and praying now about who would be blessed to be in community with you!
“When He saw him Jesus said ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.” Luke 19:5,6
Scripture Readings for Sunday, July 31