1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Reflection: A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.
Zacchaeus was determined that nothing would get in his way to prevent him from seeing Jesus. Do you wonder, though, why he climbed a tree? Sure, we are told that he was a short man and so he climbed the tree to see Jesus. But could he not have run up to Jesus to see him from close range? Would not a small man have more flexibility to weave through the crowd to get close to this mysterious stranger? Yet, perhaps Zacchaeus was used to being shoved aside and bullied by those bigger, stronger, and more socially acceptable than he was. And so it is understandable that he would want a safe place up high – not so that he could be at a safe distance from Jesus, but a safe distance from the crowd that (seeing how they react to Jesus going to his house) could be hostile toward him.
By going up to catch a glimpse of Jesus, I think of the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11, in which God came down to see this work of human hands. The humans who built the tower thought it was greatly significant and a symbol of their might and power. And yet, God had to come down from the throne of heaven just to see what it was the foolish humans were doing. Well know, in the incarnation, the Son of God has come down once again to observe and participate in humanity. Now it was only Zacchaeus who had the wisdom to ascend in order to get a better look at what God was doing.
Do you take regular time to separate yourself from the hostile crowds of life, in order to ascend to the heights to catch a better glimpse of who God is and what God is doing? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all regularly ascended into the heights and built little houses, little sanctuaries, in which we could meet God, see God better, and enjoy God’s presence?
Take a moment and look at the image above of the tree filled with little birdhouses. Imagine that these are little sanctuaries in the heights to which you can escape the hostility of the crowds below and catch a better glimpse of God. Imagine that they are the perfect size in which to rest with God. Which one do you choose? And why so? Do you choose the red one because it is on the top branch and the closest to the heavens? Is it the one sitting to the side, partially hidden by the branch going up before it, because it will provide you with the most shelter and privacy? Is it one of the three sitting close to one another on the branch because you desire to share your communion with God with a few close, trusted friends?
How will you make this a hospitable place for your encounters with God? How will being alone with God in these sanctuaries, away from the distracting obstacles of the world, aid you in communing more deeply and intimately with God? Find a place, a physical space and an inner, spiritual home, within which you can ascend to the heights and meet the one who descends to meet you in love and grace. Hear Jesus speak these words to you in invitation: “I must stay at your house today.”
- Tuesday, October 25 – 1 Corinthians 11
- Wednesday, October 26 – 1 Corinthians 12
- Thursday, October 27 – 1 Corinthians 13
- Friday, October 28 – 1 Corinthians 14
- Saturday, October 29 – 1 Corinthians 15
- Sunday, October 30 – 1 Corinthians 16
- Monday, October 31 – 2 Corinthians 1
Prayer Focus: Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
Do you have the gift of a generous spirit? I must admit that this is something I struggle with, more so as I have aged. In my younger years I was more willing to give to help others. As I have entered adulthood and started to raise a family, my focus has shifted more to maintaining my household needs and wants. We can do this in the church as well. As the church ages we tend to think of ways that we can maintain the status quo and we can give in to the temptation to forget the mission of the church “to seek out and to save the lost,” as Jesus says in this passage. How can we be more generous personally and as a local church? Ask God this week to open your heart and spirit to the needs around you. Pray for generosity. Explore with God different ways in which we might respond to need, both personally and as a community of faith.
Meditation Focus: So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
Welcome. That is the word for this week’s meditation. In your imagination, picture your spirit, heart, and mind as a home. Outside of the door to this home you place a welcome mat that is intended to show Jesus that you are ready for him to enter into your spirit, heart, and mind today. What does this welcome mat look like? How will Jesus know that this is his invitation? Arrange and decorate it in such a way that it will be welcoming to Jesus. Perhaps you will write a message on it, such as “Welcome, Lord Jesus” or “Come, Holy One.” After you have set the welcome mat in front of your door, imagine yourself going inside and making yourself comfortable. How do you prepare yourself – your posture, your affect, your attitude – to meet Jesus today?
After you have found your place of spiritual comfort and readiness, imagine hearing a knock on your door. You go to see who it is and it is Jesus standing. Jesus is delighted with the invitation you have left at the doorstep. He enters into the room graciously and greets you. How does Jesus greet you? How do you greet him? Is it with a long embrace, a look into his loving eyes, a bow of respect and admiration, or some other way? What do you offer Jesus as he comes inside? As you invite Jesus to sit with you in your comfortable place of communion, you notice that it is Jesus who is offering you a hospitable welcome. You realize that all this time, this has been his home. Your spirit, heart, and mind belong to Jesus, and Jesus is simply coming home to rest there with you. You, suddenly, feel welcomed by Christ in your own life. What deep expressions of communion do you share there in this welcoming place?
Journaling Focus: Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house…”
What would it mean for salvation to come to your house? What would this look like specifically? How might it cause your life, your household, and your relationships to change? There is so much more to salvation than mere forgiveness and eternal security, though those are very important aspects of salvation. In salvation, though, there is also this element of things being set or made right. In other words, salvation involves healing, wholeness, and holiness. Salvation involves change and growth – what we as Methodists call sanctification. In what ways might you still be made holy? What transformation is Jesus bringing to your life and how might you take hold of that gift of grace? In prayer and writing, explore this idea of swinging the door of your home open widely for Jesus to come in and set things write.
Breath Prayer: Father, visit our homes today.