Saying Thank You
The story of Zacchaeus
Text: Luke 19:1-10
It isn't likely that you or I as upstanding members of the church are going to make it easier for sinners to come to Jesus. Sometimes our attitude of separation from the world, our judgmental spirit when it comes to those whose sins are more visible than our own, or disdain for people who have more than we have ourselves -- these things are going to prevent us from bringing people to the Lord who can give them forgiveness and peace.
And yet, some of them make it to Jesus just the same. Some, like Zacchaeus, throw caution and appearance to the wind and climb the sycamore trees They read their Bibles and they find a Lord who loves and forgives a lot. They hear his invitation to come down and join the party and they take him at his word. Just a Zacchaeus saw Jesus look up and call him by name. They understand that he is interested in them personally and really does want to have a relationship with them. And it is to this free, open, and unbelievably loving invitation that they respond.
When this happens do you and I rejoice in it? Maybe, but not likely. Luke tells us that when Jesus told Zacchaeus that he was going to eat lunch at his house that day, the crowd murmured. They said, "he has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." In other words, as far as they were concerned the jury was still out. They would wait to see if Zacchaeus made the radical transformation that he was talking about. Then, maybe after a few years being on probation, if he was still walking the straight and narrow, they would believe that he really had turned over a new leaf.
And that is a real shame.
Zacchaeus was so touched that Jesus chose him, even when all the community despised him, he gave back all the things he took and promised to give half of the things he owned legitimately to the poor. Jesus didn't say, do all that and then I will choose you, he chose him where he was. Jesus didn't care what the neighbors thought, and neither did Zacchaeus.
Jesus didn't care what the neighbors thought, and neither did Zacchaeus.
At this time of the year when we are supposed to be expressing our thankfulness, perhaps you and I can learn from Zacchaeus as well. I am afraid that most of us express our gratitude with a sense of nervousness. We pause to thank God for all the material things that he has given us, first of all because those are the things that we believe are important, and secondly, because we are afraid that if we don't say thank you often enough that God might take them away.
Zacchaeus has figured it out; he's learned the lesson. He knows that all those things he has aren't worth a hill of beans when compared to what he has found through his relationship with Jesus Christ. And so he is willing to give all of them up and live off just what he needs to show Christ how grateful he is.
Here is a prayer you might consider during this time when we are focusing on giving thanks. You can read it, as long as you are sincere God it okay with it.
O God, we thank you for life, and all the beauty and wonder of it, for the people that we have known and loved, and for the rare opportunities that we have ha to enter into the deeper things of life. Forgive, O God, our triviality, and overlook our foolish ways. Help us to deepen and cultivate our understanding of primary things, things that come first, and then give us the will and the grace to make this nation strong that it may endure and that it may not go the way of others into exile and oblivion.