Doing Church: (J.R. Briggs) Luke 19:1-10

This Sunday, we were blessed to have J.R. Briggs from Calvary Souderton, PA. We studied together Luke 19: 1-10. This is a familiar story in the Bible many of us perhaps have learned as young children. It is the story of Zacchaeus and his informal meeting of Jesus.

From what we know about Zacchaeus, he was a short man. For many of us (me in particular), being short is apart of life (I am only 5’6”). In the Greek though, the reference of ‘a short man’ carries with it, a connotation that Zacchaeus was perhaps a ‘little person’ (maybe as short as 4’1”). He was a tax collector (think about hanging out with a terrorist or a mob boss). And, he was wealthy (he was a cheat, who made a lot more money than the Roman Government probably knew about). People knew Zacchaeus, for all the wrong reasons. He was a man you hid from; a man you ran from. Definitely not someone you would invite to your home for fellowship.

So here enters the bully and the cheat, Zacchaeus. A short man among a crowd of people who are trying to see this Rabbi whose teaching is different from other Rabbis. For whatever reason, this Rabbi has caught the interest of a crowd of people. Zacchaeus’ interest is sparked by the crowd’s interest in this man. Drawn to the point of desperation, Zacchaeus attempts to see this man form Nazareth but due to his stature, is unable to get through to catch a glimpse of him. As he looks around, a sycamore tree stands to the left of him. Being so desperate, Zacchaeus climbs the tree. Now, high up in a tree, he sees Rabbi Jesus among the crowd. As his gaze continues, he sees Jesus walking towards him. Before Zacchaeus can move, Jesus stands before him and speaks to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

The whole crowd watches in amazement as Jesus speaks to this man that the crowd hates. They even mutter and say, “He has gone into be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus is compelled by the testimony of Jesus, he announces before Jesus and the crowd, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” How does the presence of a Rabbi bring a man who has stolen from others change this man to someone who is giving back to others? Could it really be possible that this Rabbi was not your typical Rabbi? What did Jesus and Zacchaeus talk about when they were behind close doors? We are never told about the conversation in the house of Zacchaeus. Whatever the story, this man was changed by the conversation and presence of Jesus.

Let us go beyond the story and notice something I had not noticed before. Zacchaeus sought Jesus. The crowds did not notice Zacchaeus. They were focused on trying to see Jesus for themselves. It is ironic that Jesus was not gazing at the crowds however. He was looking at Zacchaeus. Have you ever taken the time to consider who is looking at whom in this story? When we look at this story from a ‘sight perspective,’ we should be asking ourselves, “What is Jesus looking at? Why does Jesus ignore the crowd?

Jesus was on a mission to say at Zacchaeus’ house. The crowds were worried more about themselves and what Jesus was looking at. There are times when we focus too much on ourselves rather than seeing what Jesus sees. We focus so much on getting what we want from Jesus, we miss what Jesus is trying to do – His mission. Let us never forget the mission of Jesus. Let us never forget to point our gaze on Jesus long enough to see what Jesus is looking at. When we see what Jesus sees, we cannot help but be moved to do something. You cannot stand still and do nothing. So let us do nothing and let us do something. Point your eyes towards Jesus and ask Christ what He sees. That is our challenge. That is our call. God bless


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