The people mutter, “Jesus has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” And they were right. Zacchaeus was a sinner of the worst kind. He had gotten rich from collaborating with invaders and by fleecing his neighbors. So, his neighbors regarded him as human filth. His name became a sneer on the lips of fellow Jews. He was a standing joke. But for some reason, Jesus chooses to dine with the most hated man in town.
Happy Father’s Day to the men who helped raise children! During Jesus’ day, children were accorded a low status in society. They were sometimes seen as property. The Disciples thought the children were a nuisance and tried to keep them away from Jesus, but Jesus would have none of that. We will look at His priority for children in a message titled, “Not a Nuisance.”
The Roman soldiers seek to humiliate Jesus. They anoint Him with a purple robe and their spit in a mock coronation. Yet at the end of the crucifixion, when Jesus dies on the cross, a Roman centurion says, “Truly this man was God’s son.” So what happened to that Roman soldier watching the crucifixion that changed his mind? We will explore the change in a message titled, “Journey to Easter: Distracted by Clothing.”
“I am… the way, the truth, and the life…” is as wide and expansive a claim as a person can make. Jesus followed up that claim with a way that embraced people across life’s spectrum. His way included many unexpected people like a Roman Centurion, a sinful woman and a despised traitorous tax collector. Jesus way expressed truth about the world and gave us life in a new way.
Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd. Which means we are the sheep. Now we may not be flattered by being called sheep but the relationship between shepherd and sheep is a great description of our relationship with Jesus.
Each of us is created as a holy vessel of embodied love. Our sense of wholeness has been shattered. We look to Lent to be a season or recovery after the toxicity of this last year. Jesus is in solidarity with our healing of body, soul and spirit, where beauty is created from that which feels broken.
Mary, the young mother of Jesus, was as a woman powerless in the face of those who ruled the land. Still, in the Magnificat, Mary exults in a power that comes, not from a throne or any earthly authority, but from God. God’s powerful grace and love through Jesus is then claimed for the poor and oppressed.
The word “Jesus” means “God saves.” So anytime we say the name Jesus we are saying God saves. He is the deliver. His name says He is Savior. He liberates us. He rescues us. If that is so then what does that really mean?
You can tell a lot about a person’s heart by who has a place at their dinner table. Jesus was constantly getting into trouble for sitting at tables with sinners. It was partly from sitting at too many tables that got Jesus killed. Two thousand years later we sit at a table with Jesus. In this election week may find strength and peace at Jesus’ table.
What matters to our Creator is not the image we present to the world, but the image God created in us.