March 17, 2016
Daily Scripture Readings for Lent 2016
When I went out to my car the other afternoon, I saw that Colonial Drive was backed up with traffic. The cars were at a standstill in the intersection. Of course that meant the cars were also backed up on Highland Avenue, almost all the way back to Marks Street. Normally I would think, uh oh, I bet there is an accident. But that day I thought, I bet there is a political candidate nearby. Maybe their motorcade has backed everything up, or all these people are going to a rally for a candidate. Signs of the season.
When I finally got out of the traffic, I realized I haven’t seen a political candidate in person in years. I think I’ve only seen one president from about 10 feet away. I can’t even remember a single certifiable celebrity I’ve met. But I’m not one to stand in long lines just for the sight of someone famous.
Zacchaeus pushed and shoved in the crowd to get a spot to see Jesus and when that didn’t work (since he was so short), he climbed a tree. Jesus stopped the motorcade, got out, looked up at Zacchaeus and said, “Zach, let’s have dinner at your place.” I would have fallen right out of the tree.
It changed Zacchaeus’ life; literally the kind of change that would make Zacchaeus something of a local celebrity. The press release might read, “Jesus comes to dinner – dirty rotten tax collector has conversion experience – promises to give half of everything he owns to charity – repays all the poor people four times everything he cheated them.”
Could we put it in today’s terms? Political candidate reverses course and says, “I’m going to give half of my personal wealth to charity. I believe we can increase, four times as much, what’s in the budget for the poor.” I bet that would stop traffic and draw and crowd. And they might not be a candidate for long.
But here it is, almost at the end of Lent. In different ways, we’ve been walking with Jesus to Jerusalem and the cross. Has anything changed? Have we changed?
Something changed for Zacchaeus. Something clicked, something burst forth within him, something opened his eyes, and he saw everything in a different light. I think he suddenly wanted to say “yes” to the joy, love, and grace Jesus brought to him by coming to his house when no one else would step foot in his door.
Something changed for Zacchaeus, and it was the presence of Jesus in his life. Even if everyone else treated him like a traitor, if everyone else thought he was offensive and worthless, even made fun of his size, Jesus stopped and said, “let’s have dinner.”
Jesus even made it sound like a part of God’s plan. “I must stay at your house today.”
Jesus calls it salvation: when his life becomes the pattern of our lives. Salvation: when we share of ourselves the way Jesus shared himself. Salvation: when we have lost our way, Jesus shows us his way, and gives us the grace to follow him.
Here we are near the end of Lent. Its never to late to look for Jesus, whatever crowd you find yourself in. If you do, be ready. When Jesus sees you, something is going to change.
Prayer: Lord, so much of the time I just follow the crowd. Help me to do what it takes to see you. Help me to know you see me. Help me to change.