The morning devotion was Luke 19, the story of Zacchaeus. I rolled my eyes. I have read this a thousand times and sang Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he to children and with children for decades. I didn’t want to read something familiar. I wanted to read something fresh and deep.
I read Zacchaeus.
Verse 8 leapt off the page
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (NIV)
I had never thought about how quickly Zacchaeus responded to Jesus before. It’s almost as if Zacchaeus had followed Jesus’ ministry and had thoughtfully considered His words long before he had the chance to see and hear Him in person. He was just waiting for an invitation. Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “I must stay at your house today.” Immediately, Zacchaeus said yes and they were on their way to his house. At the house, Zacchaeus tells Jesus he is going to change his business practices and he pledges to return 4 times the amount he has taken through inappropriate taxation.
I couldn’t help but think of the story of the rich, young ruler recorded just one chapter before, in Luke 18. This young ruler, like Zacchaeus, was rich. But unlike Zacchaeus, He came to Jesus to engage Him in a theological discussion. He began by calling Jesus ‘good teacher’ and then asked how he could have eternal life. Jesus asked why the rich, young ruler called him ‘good’ since there was none good but God. (Would it have made any difference if the rich, young ruler had known he was actually talking to God?) The rich, young ruler persisted and said he had kept all the rules, all of the ones laid down in the Law. Jesus said, “OK, now go and sell all you have and give it to the poor.” Verse 23 of Luke 18 says, “When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.”
The contrast between Zacchaeus and the rich, young ruler is striking. Zacchaeus is like a small child at Christmas when Jesus drops into his life. He can’t do enough or engage Jesus enough or put his life in order fast enough. He is jubilant with the prospects of a new life. The rich, young ruler comes to Jesus with platitudes and a sense of pride in his record. When Jesus answers the young man’s question, he becomes sad.
Both men had material wealth, but when Jesus came into their lives one became richer, the other became distressed. One parted with some of his wealth. The other could not. This Multitudes on Monday, I thank God for the riches He has given me this week, that are over and above my daily bread:
#1257 a wonderful lunch with an old co-worker from the hospital. Thank you, Cindy!
#1258 a fabulous church picnic with all the families my husband and I love.
#1259 threatening rain when the grandsons came that forced us to do alternative activities. They blessed my heart with their maturity in the switch.
#1260 the day off work so I can type down my ‘thank-you’s’
#1261 my sister called me after a traumatic event happened in her life
#1262 a discussion about watermelon with an 89-year-old farmer who still cuts fields of hay with his tractor
#1263 the caring of a young man in church as I help my husband, who is in great pain, after staying too long at the picnic
#1264 the numbness in my left leg that slows and is a constant reminder that keeps my patience in check as I wait for others
#1265 a new doctor
#1266 black-eyed susans and a second round of red raspberries in my garden
#1267 for contemporary Christian music that helps me worship whenever I can
#1268 children and young people who are excited about life and have so much energy
#1269 parents, bosses and other types of managers who have what it takes to lead ethically (One such parent will guest post here Wednesday. Please come back.)
#1270 He keeps me counting.
God is with us,