Luke 19:1-10: [Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Growing up, I noticed my parents cared deeply about two kinds of relationships in our household. They cared about how I related to them, and how I related to my brother. Picture these relationships on a genealogical chart: my parents on top and me and my brother below. These two kinds of relationships are represented by the vertical line between parents and children and the horizontal line between siblings. Even now that we're grown, my parents care about both lines. As much as they love visiting with me on the phone, they never tire of telling me, "Now, don't forget to give your brother a call."
This multi-dimensional concern seen in many families can help us solve a puzzle in our reading today. Luke may be focusing our attention on how Jesus restores Zacchaeus' relationship with God, in that "vertical dimension." Or Luke may be focusing on how Jesus is restoring Zacchaeus' "horizontal" relationships with the people in his town, his brothers and sisters in the faith.
There is evidence for both views. Verse one says Zacchaeus was "seeking to see who Jesus was." This is Zacchaeus' first meeting with Jesus, God's Son, whose mission it is to restore that broken vertical relationship with God. It's Zacchaeus' "come-to-Jesus" moment. However, Zacchaeus may already have saving faith in Jesus through the message he's heard word-of-mouth through those tax collectors baptized by John, the forerunner of Jesus (see Luke 3), like how the centurion had faith in Jesus before he met him in person (see Luke 7). You and I have faith in Jesus through the testimony of others. Also, when Zacchaeus speaks to Jesus, it's in the present tense, not the future. He doesn't say, "Lord, I will give half of my goods to the poor," but, "I give." Zacchaeus may be explaining what he's already started doing, as in, "Lord, when I heard that You're the Messiah, the One we've been waiting for, I repented. And to bear fruit in keeping with repentance, I've started giving away my excess wealth to help my neighbors."
These two possibilities raise questions about what Jesus means when He says, "Today salvation has come to this house." Was Jesus primarily working vertically or horizontally? Was Zacchaeus lost because he was still pushing God away? Or was he lost because his faith family was still pushing him away? I'm not sure which is the focus here. But I am sure of this: Jesus cares about both, the vertical and the horizontal dimensions, restoring us to God and to each other.
WE PRAY: Jesus, by your Spirit, help us to love God, our Father, and to love our neighbors. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Why is it difficult to separate parents' concern for their children and their concern that their children get along with each other?
2. How do these insights from parental love help us understand God's love?
3. Read 1 John 4:16-21. Whom is God calling you to love with words and deeds today?
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