Sunday , September 27 2020

Invited

By Jodi Thomas
InvitedHave you ever felt rejected? Or uninvited? Or not included? It’s a feeling most of us are familiar with. That awful feeling of finding out there was a function where everyone was invited, except you. Whether it’s a group of 3, 13, or 30, it always stings. It leaves you feeling left out, lonely, even less than. There’s a super popular book right now that many of my friends are reading that deals with that very issue—Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst.
Recently, I spent some time in Luke 19 and the story of Zacchaeus. You remember the guy. . . you probably sang about him in Sunday school:
Zaccheus was a wee, little man,
And a wee, little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree,
For the Lord he wanted to see.
Let’s revisit Luke 19:
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.
See, we are so overly familiar with this story, that we miss the power of it. There are no words to describe how much the Jews would have hated this guy. He was a traitor—taking money from his own oppressed people on behalf of Rome, skimming from the top to afford him the lifestyle he desired. This is someone who definitely desired lifestyle over relationships. More than likely, he would have been banned from entering the synagogue. Nor did he probably want to. Everywhere he turned, he received the cold shoulder, cold stares, and when it came to social situations, left out in the cold.
Yet, something within him was pricking at his heart. Jesus was coming to Jericho, and for whatever reason, he was drawn to him.
3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.
We learn from the text he was very short; more than likely he had Little Man Complex. Certainly he had to be something like the Miles Finch character in the movie Elf. Maybe he was bullied or mocked when he was younger because he was so short. But for whatever reason, he became a financial bully later in life. Not only was he physically small, but he was more than likely spiritually small, too. No spiritual giant was he. Proud. Isolated. Sinner. Can you imagine a man like this climbing a tree? I sure can’t. But his curiosity was greater than his pride. Something was calling him. Or Someone.
5 And 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.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
Do you see that? Of all the people in town, Zacchaeus might have been the most hated. He was a spiritual midget and a sin giant. Yet, who did Jesus pursue? Who did Jesus choose to be with? The spiritual leaders of the community? No, the biggest spiritual loser of them all. And Jesus chose to spend the day with him. Not just a moment, but an entire day. Singled out. Chosen. Invited.
I wonder what they talked about. Evidently, it made a real impact.
8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
See, love changes everything. When we are loved in the midst of our yuck, when we are simply loved with no strings attached, our hearts are healed. Jesus healed sick people, blind people, you name it. Zacchaeus had a sick and blind heart. And Jesus’ love healed it. Shown grace and mercy by Jesus, Zacchaeus begins to splash that grace and mercy out onto others.
So, wherever you are in your journey of faith, just know that no matter the sin in your life, no matter the state of your heart, Jesus always looks up into the tree and says to you, “Hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” He loves you, and He wants to spend time with you. There is One who never turns you away, who never rejects you, and whose invitation is always open.
Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20

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