Sometimes there a Bible stories that I have heard from childhood that I know well, but I don't know what to do with them. Tonight's passage was from Luke 19:1-10: the story of Zacchaeus. By now you may have the Sunday School song going through your head ("Zacchaeus was a wee little man..."), but if you don't, let me give you a quick refresher:
Zacchaeus, a tax collector (hated by the Jews, considered traitors with the Romans), heard that Jesus was in town (Jericho) and wanted to see him. He was of short-stature, however, and couldn't see Jesus through the crowd, so he climbed up in a sycamore tree. Jesus sees him, stops, and tells him to come down because Jesus is going to Zacchaeus house. The crowd begins to murmur at the thought of Jesus eating at a sinner's house (gasp!). Hearing them, Zacchaeus declares that he is giving up half his possessions to the poor and will give anyone whom he has cheated four times the amount in return. Jesus said,
“Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of
Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost" (vs 9-10, The Message).
So we know that Zacchaeus is a sinner (who isn't!). He wants to see Jesus (good for him). Jesus assertively invites Himself over to Zacchaeus' house (so we learn Jesus isn't a passive Scandinavian). The crowd is upset (after all, God should only be concerned with religious do-gooders, right?). Zacchaeus repents and says he'll make amends (a great example). Jesus declares that Zacchaeus has found salvation. It's a good story. A sinner finds redemption. I just don't always get what it has to do for me in the here and now.
As we talked about the story tonight, however, I think part of what I need to hear is the reminder that assertive Jesus comes to seek the lost. And let's face it, there are a number of times in life when I'm lost. I need Him seeking me.
I think my religious upbringing sometimes hinders me here, though. My Protestant work ethic sometimes gets in the way of letting Jesus seek me. I think I must work, work, work, do, do, do in order for me to be found. And yes, Zacchaeus makes the effort to climb the tree. But that's all he needs to do--to place himself in a position to be found. Sometimes my doing--even good, religious activities--gets in the way of that happening.
I also grew up knowing that God is omnipresent. He's everywhere. This knowledge can cause me to swing between to extremes: 1) I ignore that knowledge and act as if He isn't present, or 2) I take His presence for granted thinking that because He's present, I don't need to let Him find me.
The Zacchaeus story reminds me to be mindful of the posture I have with Jesus. Am I willing to do something ridiculous like climb a tree with a crowd around in order to see Jesus? Do I place myself in a position to be found? Do I notice when He stops and calls to me?
I, too, am a wee little man. Maybe not in stature (thought compared to my college roommates I was), but spiritually I am. I can't always see Jesus in my day. I want to. Or at least I want to want to.
It's good to know that He's seeking me out.