Monday, October 28, 2013

A Sinner's Salvation Luke 19:1-10

Zacchaeus is well known among Sunday School Kids; but his story is for grown ups too.
Kids often sing of Zacchaeus as a wee little man. Small children relate to him easily. He heard Jesus was coming through Jericho. Unable to see over the crowd he ran ahead climbing a tree to catch a glimpse of the Rabbi (Luke 19:1-4). My youngest, now 4, often needs a lift up to see. Sometimes its riding up high on shoulders that she can catch what's happening around her.
Kid's can relate to Zacchaeus every time they step on stool to reach the sink or help stir in the kitchen. Every person who can remember being little and riding high on mom or dad's shoulders can connect back with this short man who just wanted to see Jesus when all he could see was the backs of the crowd in front of him.
Jesus called out to Zacchaeus perched in a tree. "Come down because I am coming to your house." Luke 19:5 Jesus kept his word. And the kingdom of God came close to Zacchaeus that day. This is where the story stops for most Sunday School Kids; and for many grown ups too. Man know sanitized versions of scripture. They know God loves and has compassion searching for the lost. This is all true. But the Bible's complicated stories of the lost who are brought back are often overlooked. Maybe the details are too dark or hit too close to home for us to face.
How do you imagine Zacchaeus About 13 years ago I read the Zacchaeus story with middle school kids. They all knew the song about the wee little man; but they didn't know the back story about his defrauding and extortion. In conversation they imagined making a movie about Zacchaeus. Who would they cast in the lead roll. One of the boys suggested Joe Pesci, a short actor famous for playing violent volatile characters who wielded baseball bats and guns. Now that's a hard edged Zacchaeus.
What matters for us today is knowing what Zacchaeus did in that day when he met Jesus. The day Jesus came to Zacchaeus' home was the day he let go of his past. It was in that day when he promised to make matters right with those he defrauded Luke 19:6-8. It was in that day that he both repented and believed. Salvation came for him that day, just as it still does for those who repent and believe Luke 19:9-10.
At All Saints this year imagine Zacchaeus as a saint in God's kingdom. A man guilty of crimes against his own people brought back into the fold. His story focusses us back on Jesus and the gift of new life that comes close to each one who believes. There's not need to climb up in the tree--just leave the old behind and come to Jesus, the miracle working God/man who came searching out those someone lost like Zacchaeus.
For all the saints redeemed by faith in the God of grace and mercy we give thanks. AMEN
Peace and thanks for reading, John.

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