When our third graders drew pictures of favorite Bible stories, Alyvia chose the story of Zacchaeus. Today’s artwork is by her. Children love to remember the little man who climbed a tree, then was welcomed by Jesus. Read about Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.
Think about all the surprises in the story. First we have a grown man climbing a tree—not a very respectable way to act—especially for a rich man. I wonder if he climbed the tree just to see Jesus or if he was also hiding among the leaves. As chief tax collector who took money for himself and the Roman government, Zacchaeus would not have been a popular man.
Surprise number two is Jesus seeing Zach. With the crowd surrounding Jesus, he could easily have walked by without noticing. I suspect Zacchaeus was used to being ignored by others. Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see, not to be seen. And yet Jesus not only sees Zach, but seeks him out.
The next surprise is for the crowd. Jesus goes to Zach’s home and eats with him. The people grumble. Surely Jesus knows what kind of person Zacchaeus is—a tax collector, a thief, a sinner. Yes, Jesus does. Jesus truly sees Zacchaeus, sees all the good AND the not so good in his heart and life. Jesus loves and welcomes Zacchaeus just the way he is. “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” Luke 19: 10 What a wonderful surprise!
I bet Mrs. Zacchaeus was surprised too when Jesus arrives at the door without any warning. Whether or not the home was messy and whether or not the food was a feast or leftovers, their time together was a blessing.
This Sunday is Reformation Day. It is the 499th anniversary of an ordinary parish priest posting a list of concerns on the door of his church. No one was more surprised than Martin Luther when his 95 theses became a turning point in the history of the church and the world.
Two thousand years ago. Five hundred years ago. Today. Tomorrow. God’s surprises continue. Jesus’ love, welcome, and freedom for the lost, outsiders, and sinners continues. The Holy Spirit’s power is at work.
Today I invite you to look for ways that God is surprising you and surprising the world.