Sunday – December 24, 2017 – Luke 19:1-10
Today is Christmas Eve and your friends and family have been traveling all over the country to get to a place where they can celebrate Christmas with their families. Maybe you’re traveling as well. These family gatherings, and the memories made there, will be priceless to you in the future. It may seem hectic and crazy now but that’s not what you’ll remember later on. Maybe your family gatherings are difficult because of disagreements, rivalries and old grudges. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.” Strains in family relationships can make holiday gatherings difficult but we gather anyway because family is family. Maybe it’s because you can’t choose them that makes it so hard to just disengage or throw them away. You can end a friendship but ending family relationships is infinitely more painful. You have a different perspective when it comes to your family and, most of the time, it’s your family who is by your side when the world is coming down on top of you. They are the ones who stick with you through thick and thin. Friends who are willing to do this quickly become more than friends – they become family.
Today we’re looking at a passing moment in time as Jesus, and those following Him, pass through Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. Tucked away near the end of this passage of Scripture is a moment where Jesus talks about why He came from Heaven to Earth: it’s “to seek and to save the lost.”
We’re close to the end of this journey, through Advent, we started a few weeks ago. There will be one final devotional for Christmas Day and I hope you’ve taken part in that daily part of this journey as we’ve looked at many Bible passages contemplating the reason Jesus was sent from Heaven. Maybe you’ve established anew, or re-established, a daily devotional time through this series. I hope so. Your daily time with God can bring about the changes in your heart that God wants to make. It’s worth it.
I mentioned something earlier about the different perspective we have when it comes to the members of our family. We often fight with each other but, when the world comes down on us, it’s our family that comes and fights by our side. I want you think about that different perspective for a moment. We see our family differently than we see people that we don’t know or those people who have treated us badly at some point in time causing us to hold a grudge. But let’s go even deeper. How do you see those people who are nuisances or unworthy of your time? Is there anyone who is beneath you?
Just prior to this event involving Zacchaeus, Jesus met a blind beggar as he approached Jericho. The blind beggar calls out to Jesus for mercy and won’t remain silent even when others told him to do so. To others, this man was an inconvenience and a nuisance but, to Jesus, he was a broken man in need of the kind of help Jesus could give. Jesus wasn’t bothered by this “nuisance,” rather he was moved by him. He orders the man brought before him and asks him what his need is. The man replies, “Lord, I want to see.” Jesus heals the man and he turns and follows Jesus, giving praise to God. Everyone who saw this miracle, including those who tried to get him to remain silent, praised God as well.
Go back a little further, to Luke 18:15-17, and you have people bringing babies and little children to Jesus in order for them to be blessed by Him. The disciples rebuke them. This is a nuisance. They are just in the way of more important things that need to be done.
Go back even further, to Luke 18:9-14, to the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee thanks God for his own righteousness while the Tax Collector begs God for mercy, recognizing his own sinfulness. The Pharisee was the good man and the Tax Collector is just a nuisance. We throw away people like that.
Wait . . . go back a little further, to Luke 18:1-8, to the Parable of the Persistent Widow. She is in need of Justice and she comes before a judge who didn’t care. He refused justice until he realized she wasn’t going to stop bugging him. She was just a nuisance – some poor widow that meant nothing to him. We throw away people like that. We ignore them.
Now Jesus has entered into Jericho and one of the first events to happen is this little man named Zacchaeus climbing a tree to get a good view of Jesus. He’s a Tax Collector. He’s dirt. He had plenty of money because he knew how to cheat people. He was a bad man. He was a nuisance to society. He was hard to ignore but we throw away people like Zacchaeus.
Jesus isn’t staying in Jericho for long and, in verse 28, he’s heading up to Jerusalem as we prepare for his Triumphal Entry on a colt. It was in Luke 18:31-34 where it says, “31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” 34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.” Chapter 18 is the backdrop to our story and the remaining story in Luke will remind us that, to the Pharisees and other leaders, Jesus was nothing more than just a nuisance. Just one more rebel there to upset their apple cart. They tried to ignore him but that didn’t work. Eventually they were left with only one alternative: to plot and kill him. To get rid of him.
All these stories are reminders to each of us that those whom we see as nothing more than nuisances in life are real people to Jesus. Maybe we should start seeing those around us through the eyes of God rather than our own because it is our spiritual eyes that are blinded by our sin. Our perspective is wrong and what we need is God’s perspective. That person you see as a nuisance or beneath you is a part of your family. You need to care about them.
Jesus cared about Zacchaeus because he saw things differently than we do. He didn’t see an evil Tax Collector who needed to be condemned and thrown away. No, He saw someone who was lost; who needed to be found. The result was a changed man
Christmas is all about the sending of Jesus to the Earth. He came to seek and save the lost. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, that means you and me. The Devil thinks you’re nothing but a nuisance, someone to be thrown away. Jesus sees you differently. He sees you as someone who is lost and He intends to find you and to save you. It’s what He came for. Now take a look at those people who are nothing more than nuisances in your life. Are you willing to look again through God’s eyes? “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” Your mission field awaits.