A Changed Life (27-03-21)
Towards the end of his ministry on earth Jesus is journeying towards Jerusalem. In Jericho he notices Zacchaeus amongst the crowds who have gathered to meet him. Zacchaeus was a local man, collecting taxes from his own people on behalf of the occupying Romans, and lining his own pockets in the process. He was not popular! Jesus invites himself back to Zacchaeus’ home.
Bible Reading: Luke 19:7-10
All the people saw this and began to mutter,
"He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."
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."
Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house,
because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
I don’t remember going into a betting shop since I was a child and was taken by some friends of my parents who, in today’s terms, were child minding! If I went into the bookies’ today I would have no idea what to do and would feel a bit like an outcast. I think there are many in our communities who feel the same way about coming into church; they wouldn’t know what to do and would feel like outcasts.
Who are the people in our communities who may feel like outcasts to the church and the Christian faith? How might we be more like Jesus, and less like the people who muttered about Jesus spending time with Zacchaeus, in the way we relate to them? After all, Jesus had an affinity for the outcasts; he came to seek and to save the lost.
When Zacchaeus encountered Jesus his life changed; no longer an outcast, salvation came to his house that day, he was accepted.
Salvation is more than just a ticket to heaven; it is about wholeness. When we become followers of Jesus, the central core of our identity changes, and this is bound to make a difference to the rest of our lives. We see the changes in Zacchaeus. Not only does he recompense those he has cheated, but he also changes his focus for the future as he gives away half of his possessions to the poor.
We may not notice the changes in ourselves; we are often our hardest critics, but others will notice the difference as Jesus takes up residence through his Holy Spirit and gives us a new focus.
If we are to grow as Christians, let us make sure we have dealt with the past, but let us also look for ways in which we can serve God in the future.
Thank you, Jesus, that when I was lost you found me and brought me home.
Help us as a church to reach out to the lost and to the outcast with the Good News of Jesus.
I will sing the wondrous story