Tonight, I sat in the pew of a beautiful church. Little flecks of light from candles surrounded the room. Huge organ pipes reminded me of ancient churches where the people of old worshiped. A sculpture of The Lord’s Supper constantly refocused me on the reason why I was sitting in this sanctuary. I had come, as many generations before me had come, to meet Jesus.
Now, I have to admit, as spiritual as I sound thus far, I was not. It had been a long day. I had interacted with many people throughout it, and my mind was weary. A hot cup of tea, red velvet cupcake, and lightweight movie drama was my idea of a good evening. My husband had other ideas.
When he suggested we attend a night service, I was slightly hesitate. After all, that red velvet cupcake was calling my name. However, I realized my priorities may have been disorganized. Ninety minutes of reflection, refocusing, and rejoicing might just do the trick.
And that is how I found myself sitting in the middle of a pew, ruminating of the churches of old, waiting to meet Jesus.
The sermon text was from Luke 19:1-10, which tells the story of a short–but wealthy–man’s encounter with Jesus. His height, or rather lack of it, is an important detail.
This wealthy man–we’ll call him Zacchaeus–heard that Jesus was coming to town, and his curiosity got the better of him. Now, in the past, Zacchaeus had a difficult time in large crowds because he could barely see over the heads of the people in front of him. But what Zacchaeus lacked in height, he made up for in brains. Deciding to run ahead of the crowd, Zacchaeus climbed a huge sycamore-fig tree in the middle of the town square, knowing he would have a clear view of Jesus as he passed by. He climbed, and he waited.
When Jesus passed by this monstrous tree, He noticed a small man amidst its branches. Without hesitation, Jesus called out to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately! I want to have dinner with you tonight!”
What an honor! Zacchaeus, a Jewish man, was a tax collector for the oppressive Roman empire. He was a despised traitor to his people. Jesus, a well-known Jewish Rabbi, wanted to have dinner with him! Of course, he accepted.
It is this dinner with Jesus–this one time encounter for a few hours–that radically changed Zacchaeus’ life. As they enjoyed good food together, Jesus made an impact on Zacchaeus on a deep, spiritual level. Zacchaeus experienced a significant change of heart. In fact, he was so greatly moved that he gave half of all he owned to the poor. The story concludes with Jesus’ words, “Today salvation has come to this house. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
The pastor used this story and the words of Jesus to paint a new perspective for me of who Jesus is. He was a radical, an extremely interesting Person. He was anything but boring. He was so curious that Zacchaeus, a wealthy and despised man, climbed a tree to get a glimpse.
I have wondered, “If I lived during Jesus’ day, would I follow Him?” Although I believe in Him today, would I if I hadn’t learned of Him my entire life? Hearing the pastor’s perspective, I now think I would have. Tonight, I was excited to follow Jesus. He is radical. He is for everything I desire–change, a new way of living that is honest and deep and real. When He came, He taught love for all people, respect and equality, mercy and kindness, grace and forgiveness. He led a revolution. He brought us back to our spiritual roots–back to God our Father. He was a traveler with eternal values. He often connected with people for a few moments but left a permanent stamp. He changed lives. He changed the world. He changed history. He is God.
I caught another glimpse of Jesus tonight. I didn’t climb a tree, but I did sit in a wood pew.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.