Thursday, November 01, 2007

A "Wii, Little Man"

Luke 19:1-10

19He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

  • What we notice about Zacchaeus: 1. Seeking Jesus 2. Chief Tax Collector and rich 3. His size and the crowd kept him from seeing Jesus 4. He did what he had to do despite what anyone else tried to do to stop him 5. Welcomed Jesus 6. Took action, Participated 7. Realized that what was "his" was not really "his" 7. Did what he could to make up for his mistakes 8. Didn't just pay for his mistakes, but for the mistakes of other Tax Collectors by giving away half of what he had before even paying back those he wronged.
  • Why is the Nintendo Wii so popular? Because of the participatory nature of it? Zacchaeus is an example to us because he "participated" and didn't just play church or play Christian. He was authentic and real. His actions prove this.
  • Tax Collectors were mostly thieves and ripped people off regularly... a "chief tax collector" probably even more.
  • The "crowd" keeps people from Jesus... how does the church "crowd" keep people from Jesus?
  • Verse 10 "For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” Is that what the church models? Is that what we are here for? Is that our goal? Or is it to "get something out of it" or to be comfortable. If church is not for the "lost" what is it for? Does the church "seek out" the lost and meet people where they are and give them something to "get out of it?"


Matt said...

There's a lot of shifting perspectives in this reading, which I never noticed. Initially it seems like he doesn't know what he's looking for. He just wants to see who Jesus is. The crowd is too big and, being short, he has his own personal limitations. I think that's a great description of how life is. Whether we're aware of it or not, we're trying to reconcile our true, God-given nature with our relation to the crowd around us and our own limitations. There is a point where, perhaps unknowingly at first, you pull yourself out of your rut, change your perspective, climb a tree, do something crazy from the norm and finally get a glimpse of what you are looking for. When you do something like this, you're letting yourself be vulnerable enough to be what you are and for God to recognize you as such.

"There you are so-and-so in that tree, I'm eating with you tonight." WHAT? ME?

I think in church, you deal with people who are like the crowd. They're unwilling to admit they're lost. None of us really know what we are doing here. You kind of wake up and are taught how to survive. My brother says people look at you and say "welcome to earth, this is chicken, we eat this here." Sometimes we forget this. We have our religion, we believe our own bs, whatever. We think we're not lost at all and we start looking down on the sinners around us who are climbing trees trying to find something real.

Murphy said...

I know this is pretty obvious, but the message of non-conformity is strong here. The passage doesn't beat you over the head with it, but I think it's a good example of the congregation judging a newcomer because he's not pretending to be a flawless soccer mom or high school principal.

If anyone from a sex-offender to a former Enron CFO walked into 99% of the churches of any major denomination, he'd be scorned if he wore his mistakes on his sleeve.

james said...

Jesus is a badass. He hangs out with whomever he wants regardless of what the mob thinks. I respect that.

rev. todd said...

matt, that is a very good analysis! The unexpectedness of it all really hits me. Thanks for your contribution this week!!!

rev. todd said...

murphy... that's very, very true! I think that churches keep people out in many ways. I want a church full of Zacchaeuses not a church full of the "crowd." This problem is not new... this idea of the good people not being in church and Jesus having to force people to find a place for them. This has been going on since the beginning. Jesus was way more critical of "church people" than anyone else, but then he found twelve dudes and changed it all. And now we are back to where we started... again and again.

rev. todd said...

James... I think that is respectable too and I think that you share that quality. I have a ton of respect for you! I could see you doing something like that, saying, "screw you guys, i'm gonna go hang out with this dude." Or go be a firefighter or something :) It will happen dude... you are in a very respectable adventure!