The Rev. Dr. Michael Thompson preached a “simple story about grace” at our Lenten Service last evening. He told us the story of a man called Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10.
Zacchaeus was a rich man who lived in Jericho and worked as a tax collector. All tax collectors were despised because they were considered corrupt and had abandoned their Jewish community by working for the Roman Empire.
Rev. Thompson talked about the three graces bestowed on Zacchaeus starting with the grace of “hunger”. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but he was short and couldn’t see over the crowd. He ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree, exposing himself to the disdain of the crowd. But Zacchaeus didn’t care; he was too hungry to see Jesus.
The second grace that was bestowed upon Zacchaeus was the grace of “acceptance.” Jesus didn’t ask him about salvation or chastise him for being a tax-collector. Instead Jesus said only, “Hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house.” What a gift it must have been for a despised tax collector to be accepted by Jesus, with no questions asked!
The third grace Jesus bestowed upon Zacchaeus was the grace of "transformation." When people encounter surprising acceptance by Jesus, grace has a snowball effect on us both on the inside and the outside. Zacchaeus climbed out of the tree and he had no sooner hit the ground when he said to Jesus that he would give half of his possessions to the poor and to anyone that he had defrauded, he’d repay them back four times as much.
Jesus recognized this transformation with, “Today salvation has come to this house.” The impossible happened through three graces; a rich man can get to heaven.
Rev. Thompson ended by asking us which one of the graces we were in most need of last night. Was it “hunger,” “acceptance,” or “transformation?” The Lord is ready and willing to give each of us all three.
Blessings, my friend,
(click below for MP3 file)