Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Climb a tree. See Jesus. Be a tree

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ. – Billy Graham

Gospel text (Lk 19,1-10):
At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
"Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house."
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
"He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
"Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over."
And Jesus said to him,
"Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost."

The world is full of Zacchaeuses and like Zacchaeus, we need a “tree” to climb so we can see Jesus.

Zacchaeus was short. He seemed to be always standing on his tiptoes to look taller. He had taken the job of tax collector to make "big money," possibly to compensate for his small size. Zacchaeus was another Napoleon, a short man trying to make a big impression. But it didn't work. The more Zacchaeus tried to be big, the shorter he got — not physically but spiritually. He was short on justice, love, mercy, peace, happiness, and hope.

Finally, Zacchaeus tried one more time to be tall. He climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. Jesus looked up at the man who had climbed the ladder of success in business, and told him to "hurry down" (Lk 19:5) — not just down the tree but down the power tower of his life. Zacchaeus gave up a life of focusing on himself and comparing himself with others and chose a life of denying his very self and following Jesus (Lk 9:23). Then Zacchaeus no longer needed to be tall, for the life he lived was not his own but a life of faith in Jesus (Gal 2:20).

Like Zacchaeus, we are all “short”. We can spend our lives on tiptoe, up trees, and climbing ladders, or we can live for Jesus and others.

Christianity is the most radical decision possible for a human being. To follow the crucified Savior is to lose our lives (Lk 9:24) and be "delivered from the futile way of life" handed on to us by our materialistic culture (1 Pt 1:18). Let us be converted as Zacchaeus was converted. Let us be crucified with Christ (Gal 2:19).

Let us love as Jesus loves.

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