Monday, October 31, 2016

Welcoming Jesus Into Your House; Luke 19:1-10

Rev. George Miller
Oct 30, 2016
Luke 19:1-10

Confession time- I’ve had no idea what to preach about today. We’ve talked about so much over the past year- mental illness, racial tensions, the election, finances.

It’s time for some levity.

In yesterday’s paper, amidst all the super-serious news was an article about the president of the Philippines who said God told him to stop cussing.

He was on a flight to his hometown when God woke him up and said “If you don’t stop with the foul language I am going to bring this plane down to the ground!”

Now, the president of the Philippines is known for being crass and crude, cussing out both the pope and our president.

He’s used off-color language when talking about the UN Secretary General, human rights advocates and Islamic extremists, and he’s been seen in public chewing gum in front of emperors.

And the man is not a teenager, he is 71 years old.

He’s a political bad boy, but he claims God had a come-to-Jesus-moment with him, so he will try his best to change his ways.

I love the notion that God can enter into someone’s life unexpectedly and change them for the better.

Of course, this notion is Biblical. In the book of Acts, Saul, an enemy of the Christians, has an encounter with the resurrected Christ and becomes the biggest cheerleader for Jesus.

In the book of Judges we have God appearing to Gideon, who is the weakest member of the weakest clan, calling him to be the mightiest of leaders.

Today, in the Gospel of Luke, we have Jesus inviting himself over to the house of Zacchaeus, enemy of the state.

The delight is in the details.

Jesus is entering into Jericho on his way to Jerusalem, and a crowd has gathered. And we have Zacchaeus, who is a short, short man climbing a sycamore tree just so he can see him.

To fully enjoy this story, we realize this was 2,000 years before Facebook; 2,000 years before you can tag someone in a photo or hashtag someone in a post if you wanted to get their eye.

This is before selfies and cell phones, so if Zacchaeus was to get Jesus’ attention, he was gonna have to do it the old fashioned way- he climbed a tree.

The interesting thing is that apparently Jesus already knew who he was. We’re not told how, we are not told why, but we are told that Jesus looked up, saw this short man in the tree and said-

“Zacchaeus! Bro! Hombre! Get down from there so I can hang with you at your house.”

Of course, people didn’t like it one bit. Not only did Zacchaeus collect taxes for the Roman government, but he was their chief guy.

What kind of rabbi would eat with their enemy? What kind of savior would stay with a sinner?

But Jesus doesn’t mind what the others say.

Zacchaeus stands there, on solid ground, short in stature, but soaring in spirit, and he says-

“Look- half of what I own I will give to the needy, and I will pay back 4X to those I defrauded.”

His reward: the gift of acceptance. He is accepted into the Family of God, guaranteed a place at the table.

No longer an outsider, an enemy, a sell-out, but a brother, a friend, and among the found.

There is a lightness, a joy, that comes from this scripture. That is a good thing, because in the same chapter Jesus will enter into Jerusalem, cry over the sins of the city, and cleanse the Temple.

But for now, for this moment, separating all that has come before and all the drama that will come later, is this perfectly captured moment in time in which Jesus is standing before a sinner who may be short in stature, but he is extraordinary in heart.

And the possibility for positive change is present.

Change that can bless the poor, change that can bless the community, change that can bless Zacchaeus himself.

Once again we get to see the Still Speaking God at work.

Once again we hear what happens when holiness enters into a person’s life.

Once again we are reminded that no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey- Jesus wants to be welcomed into your house.

No matter who you are, or what you have done- Jesus wants to be welcomed into your house.

No matter who you are, no matter who you have-
-robbed from
-cursed at
-lied about
-sinned against

Jesus wants to be welcomed into your house.

Every day.

No matter what you have said, no matter what you have done, no matter your age, your height, your sex, your role in life-

Jesus wants to be welcomed into your house.

It’s never too late, it’s never too early. You’re never too rich, you’re never too poor.

Jesus wants to be welcomed into your house.

For that, we can all say amen and amen.

No comments: