Have you ever been at a parade or maybe a football match and something happens and everybody stands up and you can't see what's going on? Something like that is a part of our story for today. The story starts with Jesus coming to a town and most of the folks in the town show up to get a look at him. One of those folks was a man named Zaccheus. Now the scriptures never say that Zaccheus was shorter than normal. What they do say is that he couldn't see over the people who were standing in front of him. So what did he do? [wait for answers]
He climbed up into a tree so he could see Jesus. Now again, the scripture doesn't say that Zaccheus wanted anything but to see this person that everybody was talking about. But then, an amazing thing happened. Jesus came over and stood under the tree and looked up at him and said, "Zaccheus, come down from there because I'd like to go to your home for dinner."
What a surprise! Even more so because Zaccheus was a tax collector and most folks really didn't like tax collectors. That may still be true today, but in Jesus' time it was because tax collectors often cheated people and took more than they should. But Jesus wanted to visit with Zaccheus and eat with him.
Zaccheus was so happy that Jesus was showing him that God cared about him too that he decided to change the way he acted. He said, "I'm going to sell half of what I have and give what I get from that to the poor and then I'm going to give back to all the people I cheated four times as much as I took from them."
Jesus was really happy to hear that because it meant that Zaccheus really was going to change the way he acted. He said, "This is why I do what I do, so that people can see that God loves them and then show that love to others the way we all should. It's like someone who is lost suddenly finding the way back to where they should be."
Let's pray about that.
God, we thank you so much that Jesus shows us how much you love each one of us. Help us to show that love to other people by doing what's good for them. Help us to remember that no one is so bad that you can't help them to be good.
We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.