Wednesday, October 21st Luke 19:1-5

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When 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.” Luke 19:1-5

Whenever I read the story of Zacchaeus, the first thing that pops into my head is the children’s song about the “wee little man.” The next image is the Danny DeVito character from the television series, “Taxi.” Then, I might think about Boss Hogg from another, less memorable television series. In other words, the images are always comic – a bizarre little guy climbing a tree so that he could see Jesus above the heads of the crowd.

Those aren’t fair images.

Zacchaeus was not only a tax collector (a pretty good job if you didn’t mind being thought of as the scum of the earth), he was a CHIEF tax collector. His position demanded skill, savvy and carefully woven political connections. He was rich. He was successful. He had a lot to lose if he would ever be seen acting the fool in public.

But none of that mattered when Jesus came to town. Why? Maybe there was something else going on in Zacchaeus’s life that the writer doesn’t tell us about, because they are realities that the writer can’t know.

Maybe Zacchaeus had fought to get to the top, only to discover that life at the top wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Maybe, despite outward riches, Zacchaeus felt inwardly bankrupt. Plagued by guilt and shame, knowing that his friends only cared about what he could do for them, Zacchaeus just might have been a desperately unhappy person. Desperate enough to play the fool, run through the crowd and climb a tree.

Jesus saw him on the edge of the crowd. He always sees the ones on the edges. And Jesus invites himself over. Zacchaeus would never be the same man again.

Those on the edge are not only the poor, the sick, the disadvantaged – they are also the fabulously successful plagued by a desperate emptiness. Know someone like that?

Let us pray: Dearest Lord Jesus, no one escapes your all-seeing eyes. From the sparrows to the hairs on our heads to Zacchaeus in a tree, you see us all. And you are always ready to join us in our lives, to invite yourself over, to recreate us in your image. Thank you for seeing us, and being there with us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

3 Responses to “Wednesday, October 21st Luke 19:1-5”

  1. Julia Cloninger Halford Says:

    You wrote:
    Those on the edge are not only the poor, the sick, the disadvantaged – they are also the fabulously successful plagued by a desperate emptiness. Know someone like that?

    My answer to the question . . . YES!

  2. Jane Says:

    I think most of the time those who are at the edge are actually ON the edge. And a just a little notice, care and support can stop them from “jumping”.

    My prayer is for those who don’t know how to pray … and for those who have no one to pray for them.

  3. Harold Markuson Says:

    Doesn’t this relate to the ELCA’s latest social statement?

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