Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Encounters with Jesus

by David U

Have you ever taken the time to go thru the Gospels and see how lives were changed when people encountered Jesus? RADICAL changes. Not just yawning, ho-hum January resolutions for change. Not just shallow words said to appease someone. We are talking about REVOLUTIONARY changes. Jesus does that to hearts that are open to Him.

I guess my favorite encounter of Jesus is recorded in Luke 19. It tells the story that Mark Moore says ought to be titled "Too Short to See Jesus". Most of you have sung the story since you were in pre-school....the story of Zacchaeus, the "wee little man". Someone of Irish decent must have written that jingle, huh? Zach must have been someone the Jews despised. It was common knowledge that a tax collector defrauded people and lined their own pockets. He must have been viewed as a dishonest cheat. He would have been perceived along the same lines as the way Ken Lay was perceived by the employees at Enron. A no-good, sorry individual. But that day was his lucky day. Wasn't it? Or maybe it wasn't luck at all. I can't imagine anything having to do with Jesus explained as "Luck". Far from it. It was very intentional. Of all the people Jesus chose to go home with, he chose the idiot cheat up in the tree. The short stuff that has the little man's chip on his shoulder, so he takes it out on the folks by stealing from them. HE gets chosen by Jesus! Reckon there were some jealous people in that crowd that day? Reckon there were some people who thought Jesus MUST have his priorities wrong to pick that scoundrel to go home with? We know it says they "muttered" he was a "sinner". There are SO many aspects of this wonderful encounter we could focus on and make application, but the one I want to center on is HOW Zacchaeus's life changed....RADICALLY after his encounter with Jesus.

Do you know what the law in Leviticus said about repaying someone whom you had cheated? Leviticus 6: 5 says "He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his gift offerings". So, if I cheated you out of 20 dollars, I gotta pay you back 24 dollars if my math is working right. Why is that important? Because of the effect Jesus has on the life of Zacchaeus. We don't know what all was talked about in that house that day, but we do know this.....Zacchaeus was a changed man. My guess is Zach knew the law. Most people dealing with taxes know the law. After being with Jesus for one afternoon, Zacchaeus declares: "Look Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay them back four times the amount." Four times......hmmm. Do you realize that was TWENTY times what the law required! Remember the 20 I stole from you? I am going to now give you back 80 dollars instead of the $24 the law requires. Don't you know this drove the Pharisees crazy....knowing that they were all about minimal requirements. "Show me the bottom line, and I will make sure I get that done" was their approach to God. What would make Zacchaeus have such a RADICAL response? You know the answer, and you see it EVERY time Jesus captures someone's heart.

So let me ask in a whisper, when is the last time you went 20 times over what God expects? Oh I know, we can't always measure our actions, our love, our caring, and our mission. It's not about the measuring is it? But do people see your radical love...your radical care...your radical mission? Do they wonder what in the world could have gotten to your heart for you to respond to them in such a way? If not, you like me may need to encounter Him again. Are you too short to see Him? Short in patience, short in kindness, short in love, short in understanding, short in grace.....and the list goes on and on. Do what it takes, just like Zacchaeus did.
Encounter Him again.


Blogger Keith Brenton said...

Awesome thought! Somehow reminds me of the movie Pass It Forward; where the concept was to change the world by picking three people you barely know and giving extravagantly of yourself to them for no reason at all ... except to inspire them to "pass it forward..."

3/30/2005 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger lee said...

Someone challenged me once to think that Zach's reason to climb the tree was in order to see Jesus "cause Jesus wasn't tall.

Now I can't help but bring up that possibility...

3/30/2005 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Brandon Moore said...

KB, I think you mean "Pay it Forward", it was one of the last movies to make me cry, when the little boy who saw dead people became a dead person, wait maybe I'm getting my movies confused. Great post today. I love that Zacheus was the one who came up with the idea to do all of this.

3/30/2005 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Keith Brenton said...

You're right, Brandon; and to think I could have confirmed it with a quick trip to!

Zaccheus certainly wasn't short on faith.

Okay, I've got my bad pun of the day out now.

3/31/2005 05:20:00 AM  

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