I am lost. I am finished. My life is over. My luck has finally run out. I knew what the law was, I broke the law, and now I must pay. There are no more chances for me. I am out of appeals. There will be no last-minute legal maneuvering. There is no possibility of rescue or a miracle. This is the end. These thoughts may have gone through the mind of one of the criminals who was crucified with Jesus. But something caused the man to make an unreasonable request of Jesus. “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus’ response to this request was startling.
When you throw a party, one of the first things you do is make up a guest list. The list would be about whom to include and whom not to include. God’s list of guests consists of some surprising people. God invited the lowest on the social ladder and welcomed the prominent and wise. That’s God’s idea of a party.
While Jesus is at a dinner with Pharisees a prostitute crashes the party. She walks into Simon’s house. He may have let out a gasp. She has perfumed ointment in her hand. Why does she come to find Jesus? Why does she bring such expensive oil? Why does she crash the party?
Can you imagine Danny Devito playing Zacchaeus in a movie? Then you might understand how vertically challenged Zacchaeus was. Yet Zacchaeus throws respect out the window as he shimmies up a tree for just a look at Jesus. What emotion made the rich wealthy chief tax-collector yearn to see Jesus. What was missing from his life? Might it be missing from our lives?
In the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene is the one who discovers that Jesus’ tomb is empty. Her immediate assumption is that somebody has taken his body. Soon she will learn that more has happened than she could imagine. When Jesus spoke her name her world changed and so did ours.
Sermon preached at Gold Canyon United Methodist Church in Gold Canyon, Arizona on August 30, 2015 by Rev. Fred Steinberg Gold Canyon United Methodist Church 6640 S Kings Ranch Rd. Gold Canyon, Arizona 85118 480-982-3776 www.GoldCanyonUMC.org