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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, November 3, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 19:1–10     

He 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.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus 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.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (NRSV)

Haven’t we all wanted Jesus to notice us? Haven’t we all had the urge to climb up the sycamore-fig tree and hope that Jesus calls us down from our perch and insists upon being a guest in our home, in our hearts?

What does that mean for Jesus to be a guest in our home? Zacchaeus declares readily to the grumblers in the crowd that he will give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back anyone four times the amount for any cheating he has done. Who among us is so ready to do that? Right now I am in a season of drought, and the thought of giving up half of my possessions and paying anyone back four times what I might owe them if I cheated them sounds like a cross I cannot bear. But what if the debt isn’t financial? What if the debt is emotional? What has been taken from me then? Inversely, at the same time, don’t I always have something to give? Yet if it all belongs to God, to Jesus, then what do I have?

This is that idea of radical hospitality, right? Not only does Jesus practice it, but he asks us to practice it as well—to and for him. A lot of the time we look for Jesus in people, forgetting to also let Jesus himself in, to see Jesus in ourselves. And so he insists: when we feel short, when we think we have to give in order to get. Yes, he has gone to be the guest of a sinner. And let us welcome him. Let us welcome us.

Dear Jesus, remember us like Zacchaeus. Call to us. Notice us. Especially when we feel short, when we are unsure, when we don’t have anything to give, when we think giving is the way to getting. Watch over our households and recognize us as rightful sons and daughters of Abraham, because the Son of Man has come to save and seek those who are lost, especially in ourselves. Your way is the way. Remind us when we grumble, draped in sin. Remind us when we are radiant. Most of all remind us that we are your guest and you are ours. Amen.

Written by Jessica Wang, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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