Devotions for Luke 18:31-19:10–Jesus and Zacchaeus
March 27-April 2, 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017–Jesus and Zacchaeus
“See we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished” (Luke 18:31)
While visiting an Arab country several years ago, the tour guide explained the rather aggressive and fool hardy driving behaviors by many drivers, which were witnessed by the tour group. “They believe Allah is in control,” said the guide. “If they have an accident, it is Allah’s will. If they do not have an accident, it is Allah’s will, too.” Though fellow believers in the One, True God, no one in the group of Christians would ascribe such earthly power and control to God.
Christians have struggled to understand God’s movement in daily life. Auto accidents are usually caused by human error. Tragedies and suffering are not viewed as God’s will. Yet, healings, narrow escapes and blessed coincidences are understood to be the result of God’s hand. When Jesus saw what loomed in his future, he understood it to be part of a divine plan. His passion was neither an accident, nor the plan of diabolical minds.
Today we walk, acknowledging both God’s power and that bad things happen to good people. Our strength is not in the hope that only blessings will come our way. Rather, it is the assurance of God’s love, and the guarantee of God’s presence in our lives that gives us the confidence and boldness to face life and all it has in store for us.
Grant us the confidence and courage that Jesus had, Lord, as we walk with you today and in the days ahead. Amen.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017–Jesus and Zacchaeus
“But they understood nothing about all these things” (Luke 18:34).
The disciples were not ignorant men. They had received the traditional religious training offered to boys. From various gospel accounts, it appears that they were observant Jews, attended synagogues and participated in temple worship. The disciples had heard the words of the prophets concerning the Messiah. Jesus, also, had told them three times what would happen when they entered Jerusalem. Part of the disciples’ lack of understanding was that they simply did not want to hear what Jesus had to say. They did not want to think about suffering, sacrifice and death.
As followers of Jesus, there are times when we don’t want to hear the voice of the Spirit. The Spirit might speak against a favorite sin that we don’t want to give up. At times, the Spirit will command us to step out of our comfort zones and we will resist and ignore the Spirit’s voice. A challenge that we face is to have open ears and faithful hearts, so that we not only hear but also obey the words that the Spirit speaks to us.
“Teach us to love you as your angels love./ One holy passion filling all our frames:/ The baptism of the heav’n descended dove,/ Our hearts the altars and your love the flame.” Amen (LBW 486).
Wednesday, March 24, 2017–Jesus and Zacchaeus
“’Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me’” (Luke 18:38)!
Brothers Juan and Carlos Lopez started rough housing. Their rough housing soon turned into a wrestling match. Though Juan was a year older and ten pounds heavier than Carlos, he couldn’t match Carlos’ speed. Juan soon found himself pinned in a hold from which he couldn’t break free. “Say, ‘uncle,’” Carlos taunted. Juan made another attempt to break free and failed. He realized that he was at Carlos’ mercy. “Say, ‘uncle,’” Carlos stated with authority. Juan gave up. “Okay,” he sighed. “Uncle.” Carlos then relaxed his grip.
The blind man was at the mercy of his blindness. There was no way he could break free. Most assuredly the blind man subscribed to the common thought that some horrendous sin caused his blindness. The blind man was at the mercy of a powerful, judgmental God. He could not extricate himself from either his sin or his sickness. The blind man could only call out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me.”
Many situations in our lives remind us that we are not in control. We can only cry out for mercy from a loving God and seek God’s overwhelming grace. Our trust is that God will never refuse to answer God’s children’s requests. God will abundantly bless us with mercy, grace and love.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy. Amen.
Thursday, March 30, 2017–Jesus and Zacchaeus
“’What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord let me see again’” (Luke 18:41).
On the surface, this does not appear that Jesus asked a very enlightened question. A blind man approached him and cried out, “Son of David have mercy on me.” It would appear obvious that the man wanted to see again. Still, Jesus asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Frequently, we populate our prayers are with generalized requests like, “God bless mommy and God bless daddy.” These are fine when we are young and just learning to pray. God invites us to put more thought into our prayers, though. What is it that mommy or daddy truly need? Identifying some specific need might help us see how we can, in part, be an answer to our prayers. Reflection might also help us pray for ourselves. We may not so much need healing as we do hope, in the midst of sickness. When dealing with a rebellious teen, seeking guidance might be more necessary than demanding an immediate change of behavior.
We pray and let our requests be known to God. We then rest, knowing that God has heard our prayers and is moving in ways we may not fully comprehend.
Loving God, thank you for hearing our prayers that we bring to you and for answering them. Amen.
Friday, March 31, 2017–Jesus and Zacchaeus
“So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him” (Luke 19:4).
When Akihito and Karen were dating, it was difficult for them to see each other. They did not live close and they both had demanding jobs. Though it was a struggle, they made sure that they went out on weekly dates and stayed in contact with phone calls, emails and texts. After a few years of marriage, though, Karen and Akihito realized that they had drifted apart. They had started taking their relationship for granted and had not made the effort to spend time together or to communicate. The two of them decided to change their behavior and renew the spark in their relationship.
Zacchaeus’ efforts to see Jesus are impressive. Not only did he fight his way through the crowd, he also climbed a sycamore tree—not necessarily an easy task. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, though, and to get as close to Jesus as he could.
We can easily become complacent in our relationship with Jesus. The demands of our daily lives might distract us or fool us in to believing that we don’t have the time to climb our sycamore trees and be with Jesus. The crowd in our lives may not only bump us and push us around, the crowd may also block Jesus from our sight. Jesus is always near, though, and is always ready to spend time with us.
Lord, move within us so that we may long to be with you as much as you long to be with us. Amen.
Saturday, April 1, 2017–Jesus and Zacchaeus
“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).
“Come on down!” the game show host called out. Suddenly the cameras focus on you, the crowd starts to applaud, you stand up and run to the stage. You are no longer simply a member of the crowd. Now, you are a contestant with a name. The interaction with the host is personal.
For some reason, Jesus called Zacchaeus out of the crowd. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of people lining the street to see Jesus, the prophet and healer. Many were shouting his praises, while others were screaming for his attention. In the midst of the melee, Jesus stops, points to Zacchaeus and tells him that he, Jesus, is coming to his house. Jesus wants to get up close and personal with Zacchaeus.
God calls us out of the crowd at our baptism and tells us that we are his and members of his family. This personal affirmation is repeated when we eat the bread and drink the wine. At various times throughout our lives, the Spirit whispers our names and assures us of God’s love for us. We are not a number, nor are we simply a part of the crowd. We are God’s and God knows us by name.
Lord, we rejoice that you know us by name and you have told us to call you Abba—Daddy. Amen.
Sunday, April 2, 2017–Jesus and Zacchaeus
“Today salvation has come to the house, because he too is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9).
Salvation was not some future event for Zacchaeus, something to experience when he died. Salvation had come to his house—it was real and it was now. Zacchaeus had come face to face with Jesus. He had experienced Jesus’ love, acceptance and forgiveness. Zacchaeus’ life had been changed and that change was reflected in his actions toward others and his relationships with them.
Salvation is ours today. It is not just the assurance of life after death. Salvation is ours as we live in the reality of God’s steadfast love, overwhelming grace and unconditional forgiveness. Living in this reality, We express our when we share love, grace and forgiveness with those around us. Salvation is both a personal experience and a shared experience.
Lord, empower us to share the salvation that has come into our lives today, so that it is experienced by the world. Amen.