Sunday 17th May

In His Steps – Gentle

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21

Today we are carrying on with our series “In his steps”. This week we are looking at gentleness.

Song: This is amazing grace

Song: Water you turned into wine (Our God)

Song: The Lord’s my shepherd

Reading: Luke 19:1-10

Just being there

Ironic that today’s title, “Just being there”, is so difficult to do during this time of lockdown. Some TV programmes have said, “We are stronger together”, “When getting together is not possible, we can still be together”! Our Queen said, “Our streets are not empty, they are filled with love for each other”.

  • How is it possible to be there for each other at this time?

Jesus intended to pass through Jericho, not part of His itinerary to stop & stay the night, but He altered His plans to save one man! These notes come from someone who tries to organise things a long time in advance!

  • How willing am I, are you, to alter plans so that God can work in someone’s life?
  • Is the current world crisis a way of God making us all stop & re-evaluate our plans?
  • How is God speaking to you at the moment?

Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, he was in control of a region for the Romans, his job was to collect taxes from the people for a set wage. To supplement their income, tax collectors would often ask for more than was due. John the Baptist told the tax collectors of his day to only collect what was due, Luke 3:12&13. Note that they were not told to change their jobs but to do it honestly without defrauding anyone!

  • What is your attitude towards the Inland Revenue & paying taxes?

To many Jews Zacchaeus would have been regarded as a traitor, a quisling, for siding with the Roman authorities. Consequently he was ignored by people & probably had a very limited social circle. No one was going to make way for him to see Jesus. This didn’t deter Zacchaeus. He wanted to be there, to be part of what was happening. He didn’t want to be left out. A crowd, his circumstances, his height, were not going to stop him from seeing Jesus! He didn’t want, or expect, to be noticed but was determined to see who Jesus was.

  • What can (& sometimes does) stop us from “seeing” or being with Jesus?
  • How can we put up barriers, intentionally or unintentionally, to stop people meeting Jesus?

The unexpected happened. Jesus stopped right under the tree where Zacchaeus was lodging. Jesus looked up & told Zacchaeus to come down immediately for He must stay at his house today! This was not a request, may I stay at your house. Zacchaeus was to make haste. Jesus knew Zacchaeus’s name. Jesus knows each of our names He knows the number of hairs on our head, Luke 12:7, & the number of steps we take, Job 31:4!

  • How does it make you feel knowing that God knows all about you?

Jesus sought out Zacchaeus, Jesus made the contact not Zacchaeus. Jesus didn’t tell Zacchaeus off for being tax collector. Nor did Jesus, as far as we are aware, tell Zacchaeus to change his job. He was gentle & He was there with & for Zacchaeus. Jesus is there with & for us no matter what our situation may be.

Zacchaeus didn’t hesitate, he came down from the tree for he was only too pleased to welcome Jesus into his home. This was to be more than a meal, Jesus would stay the night. The homes of the priests were ignored by Jesus. He was going to stay in the home of a sinner, an outcast of society! The crowd grumbled. Crowd thought they were better than Zacchaeus. The crowd didn’t think that they were lost so did nothing about trusting Jesus.

  • Why didn’t Jesus stay in one of their homes?
  • Which people do we try & avoid? Why?
  • How are we guilty of ignoring the outcasts in society?
  • Who do you think represents Zacchaeus today?
  • Who do you think represents the crowd today?
  • Do we represent Jesus? Do we do what Jesus would do?

When Zacchaeus joyfully allowed Jesus into his home, into his life, it made a profound difference. His whole outlook was changed & whilst he may not have changed his job, in future everyone knew they could trust Zacchaeus. His life was changed, not just words but actions.

  • How is Jesus changing your life, especially if you have been a believer for many years?
  • What part does our conscience play in our lives? Do we ignore it, suppress it or listen to it & then act upon it?

All Jews could claim to come from the line of Abraham but not all Jews were saved. It was not the giving back of the money, nor giving half of his possessions away to the poor that saved Zacchaeus, it was his faith in Jesus that saved him from an eternity separated from God. It is the same way for every one of us, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9&10.

Jesus saw in Zacchaeus a man who was lost but was also searching for something. Jesus didn’t leave him lost but saved him! Jesus didn’t pass through Jericho He stopped because visiting Zacchaeus was to be part of His divine mission. One lost man needed to be saved, Matthew 18:11.

  • How important is one person to you and me?
  • What is our attitude to the homeless, the drug addict, the refugee, sex worker?
  • Would we go where they are?
  • Would we welcome them into our home?
  • Do we help or grumble when they are helped by the government, using our taxes?

May our lives continue to be changed as we do what Jesus would do!

Song: Boldy I approach

This weeks key verse is Luke 19:5.
Next week we will be looking at Self Controlled.