October 31, 2004

Luke 19:1-10

[1] Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. [2] There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. [3] He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way--he was a short man and couldn't see over the crowd. [4] So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.

[5] When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home."

[6] Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. [7] Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, "What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?"

[8] Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, "Master, I give away half my income to the poor--and if I'm caught cheating, I pay four times the damages."

[9] Jesus said, "Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! [10] For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost."

[The Message]

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1. You don't get much lower than Jericho. At 250 meters below sea level it is probably the world's lowest town. If you are the lowest person in the lowest town you are pretty low. Then if you are a taxer you are not only physically low but socially low, metaphorically low. This gives us a sense of the desperation of Zacchaeus catching a glimmer of a light of the world coming through the taller folks ahead and wanting to move on from there. What wouldn't you do to see. What of your tattered dignity would you give up? Would you shinny up a tree?

2. Can you imagine Zacchaeus' delight and joy at not only seeing from afar but being called close. Today there are many lowly folks who need this same invitation for us to enter their life - not to correct it, but to simply be present with a sense of wholeness for ourselves and all. The only perk Zacchaeus has is his profit from taxation. He is willing to leave even this behind to move toward wholeness.

3. To whom is Jesus speaking in verses 9 and 10? Usually we think of salvation coming to Zacchaeus in this story. What happens if we widen the circle and consider that wholiness has been evidenced in Jericho? This may have something to do with John Wesley seeing that there is no holiness, but social holiness.

A. As an aside, when coming down to Jericho from Jerusalem you turn left (right takes you to the Dead Sea). Soon after that turn comes a most interesting choice. Will you look to the left and see a Palestinian Refugee Camp or look to the right and see a new Casino. If Jesus were to walk this road into Jericho again which side of the road would he pay attention to? Those pushed from their homes more than 50 years ago or those losing their shirts today by their own hand? Would you stop to help the YMCA in their ministry on the left? Would you stop to help the money addicted on the right? Who would you eat with?

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