Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, October 28, 2019

Get out of that Tree

Zacchaeus was the little guy who climbed up the sycamore tree to see Jesus pass by. But Jesus didn’t pass by. He stopped in His tracks, looked up into the tree, called his name and told him to “Come down” as He was coming to his house that day. Zacchaeus will be our focus this coming Sunday at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, as we look together at his story in Luke 19:1-10.

Zacchaeus is a fascinating character. His name means "pure," yet the Bible tells us he was anything but pure. He was a chief tax collector in Jericho, the city where, historically, the walls had fallen down under the onslaught of Joshua and the Israelite forces.

Tax collectors were known for their habit of taking a share of the proceeds to enrich their own lives. This was far from legal, but tolerated by the Roman enforcers, as it was hard to find anybody willing to take the job. Zacchaeus was additionally disliked by the Jews because he had intimate contact with Gentiles. Decent folk did not act that way. Neither did they sell their souls to Romans.

Jesus is passing through the city of Jericho, on His way to Jerusalem. As Jesus approaches, Zacchaeus hides in a tree. We are told he was a little man, so maybe he had climbed up the tree to get a good view. Or maybe he was scared of the people, so he is hiding in order to be well out of their reach!

Jesus does not pass by. He stops and tells Zacchaeus to hurry down out of the tree he is hiding in, because Jesus was going to spend the day at his house. The religious authorities were not impressed. Jesus was spending more and more time with people who were "undesirable." Jesus explained His reasons for associating with them; “The Son of Man had come to seek and to save those who were lost.” (Luke 19:10.) Jesus cared about Zacchaeus, just as He cared about everyone, no matter their profession or status.

Zacchaeus was truly a changed man after he met Jesus. He repented of all the wrong things he had done. He understood what Jesus said about "turning around" and began following in the Kingdom's ways. He promised Jesus that, according to the laws of Moses, he would pay back the people from whom he had taken too much in taxes.

Jesus told Zacchaeus that it was his faith that now caused him to be counted among God's people. It is a biblical principle that all who come to Jesus in faith and believe in Him are saved by their faith. Jesus welcomes all who turn to Him and put their trust in Him. If Zacchaeus was an acceptable candidate for discipleship, then so are we!

For some music and reflection “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook.

Prayer: Lord, it is good to know that whoever we are and whatever we have done, You still come seeking after us. You always offer us the chance to make amends and start over again. May we welcome Your love into our daily routines this week. Amen.

(October 13 Sermon “The Attitude of Gratitude” can be found here)

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

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