The Rev’d Sue Davies-Fletcher
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Luke 19:1-10 (New International Version, NIV)
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short, he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Good morning, you join me as I bring in my more tender plants from outdoors, to protect them from the rain that the North Devon winter gales seems to bring.
In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of Zacchaeus, the unpopular ‘chief’ tax collector. Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and he was curious about this man. Strange that Jesus, Israels most talked about religious leader, is passing through Jericho and this non-religious guy goes to such great lengths to get a glimpse of him.
On the surface Zacchaeus seems to be a classical spiritual seeker. He turns to Jesus when he realizes money and power can’t fill the hole in his soul. But that is only part of the story. The bigger truth is found in the last verse. In verse 10 Jesus says: he came to Jericho, came to earth, came to wherever you and I happen to be- “to seek and to save the lost” (19:10). Jesus is the ultimate seeker in this and every salvation story. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19) so it follows that we only seek because we are first sought.
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me upon high rock” (Psalm 27:4-5).
That’s taken from Psalm 27. Written by David as he considered how his trust in God sustained him in some hard times. He describes God as his shelter. A common image for God. As we think about preparing for winter, as we look forward to Advent and hopefully the end of our second lockdown, maybe like me spending time tidying the garden, bringing in and protecting our more tender plants, it may be a good time to think about God as a shelter, who seeks us, wherever we happen to be, whatever our circumstances and however we might be feeling.
You are a shelter. You are a safe place, where we can return and rest in you. You are our refuge when life gets tough. Help us to have the same desire as Zacchaeus to seek you as you seek us.
Alternative Collect of the day
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.