Summary: This message focuses on the first responses of Zaccheus and the woman with the issue of blood.
First Response Part 2
When I last stood before you, I spoke to you about first responses. I am continuing this series this morning with part two. I will not conclude the message today as next week I will be focusing on something that each of us are faced with and will need to address (more to come next week). I will return to this series on the third Sunday if the Lord wills.
Before I get into the heart of the message for today, I want to remind you of some of the things I shared with you in part one of this series. If you recall, I told you that our first response is that initial response we have to a situation. It is that response that can be described as a “knee jerk reaction” which by definition is “an immediate unthinking emotional reaction produced by an event or statement to which the reacting person is highly sensitive; - in persons with strong feelings on a topic, it may be very predictable.” The key phrase in this definition is “unthinking emotional reaction.” This reaction is an initial, immediate reaction that comes without first thinking about how you will respond - you respond before you even think about it or may even be aware that you are responding. This is especially true if the person has very strong feelings about a particular topic.
In that message I gave you an example of the first responder who arrives at the scene of an accident. This individual is supposed to triage a situation and determine who should be treated first. I asked you to consider what would happen if this person was not trained correctly and did not follow the appropriate procedures for triaging a situation. I used this example to demonstrate how we as Christians are trying to triage situations within our lives without the proper training. Our first response does not necessarily correspond with our “faith walk” or what we confess. I shared with you my belief that this is due first to our not trusting God completely in every situation.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” This is the heart of the matter and this morning I want you to keep this Scripture in mind as we examine the first responses of two additional individuals in the New Testament.
The gospel of Luke contains the story of a man named Zaccheus. This man, a chief tax collector, had a desire to see Jesus as he heard that Jesus was going to be passing through. As Jesus was entering Jericho Zaccheus was unable to see him because he was small in stature. Turn with me to Luke chapter nineteen and we will pick up the story at verse four. “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:4-10)
Zaccheus was a tax collector for the Romans. This was not a “favored” job to have if you were a Jew although many became rich after taking the position. Consider the fact that if you took the position your own people turned against you and began to hate you because you were working for the enemy. It is possible that because they were already hated by their own people many felt justified in charging more taxes than was due and keeping the difference. The system was open to abuse; and extortion was very common. The word “chief” implies that Zaccheus was responsible for all the taxes of Jericho and had other collectors under him. So if anyone had a bad reputation in the community it was Zaccheus for he was not only a tax collector, he was the chief tax collector. Everyone knew him prior to him taking the position and had watched with hateful eyes as his lifestyle steadily got better after he was in the position. (Now he could have been rich before entering the position but he certainly gained more after he became the chief tax collector.) This is the man who heard about and wanted to see Jesus.