Summary: Jesus has come to have a living, dynamic relationship with us. and to enable us to see God's movement in our lives and in the world.
Luke 18:31-19:10 “Seeking Relationships”
Our God is a God of relationships. Though God is the God of creation, God is not satisfied with long distant relationships. God longs for intimate, hand-in-hand relationships.
Most of us at one point or another, in our lives, have been away from those we loved. Faye and I experienced that one summer when she went to California and I traveled to Mexico. Now we struggle to kindle relationships with our granddaughters while they are in Minneapolis, and we are in Surprise. After being at war for over ten years, hundreds of thousands of families know what it is like to be separated. We understand why God isn’t satisfied with long distance relationships.
In the stories of a blind beggar and Zacchaeus, we see how God moves in lives to bring people in to a close personal relationship with him.
Jesus is approaching Jericho, which is a town north east of Jerusalem, on his way to Jerusalem. A large crowd had been attracted to Jesus and the noise and hubbub they made caused a blind beggar to ask what was going on. When he was told that it was Jesus, he cried out asking Jesus to have mercy on him. The crowd tried to keep him quiet, but the blind man raised his voice even louder.
Sometimes there are blind beggars in our lives—people we think are beyond the expanse of God’s love—people who shouldn’t bother Jesus. Usually they are people who are different than us. They are people we want Jesus to ignore so that we can ignore them, too. Turning his back on people and being deaf to their cries of need are not things that Jesus does.
Jesus heard the blind beggar. He quiets the people and orders the man to be brought to him. After the man asks to be healed, Jesus heals him. Jesus doesn’t allow our conscious and unconscious circles of exclusion to prevent him from reaching out to all people.
When he gets into Jericho, the walk that has turned into a parade passes a small man who has climbed up into a tree to see Jesus. Jesus stops, calls the man by name and declares that he will stay at Zacchaeus’ home. People grumble. Zacchaeus is a tax collector and a sinner; he isn’t worthy of Jesus’ attention.
There are times when we don’t believe that we are worthy of God’s love and grace. At other times we sell other people short and we don’t believe that they are worthy of God’s grace and love, either. Our words and actions discourage them from chasing their dreams and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. By our words and actions we limit the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in others.
Jesus allows nothing to prevent him from establishing close personal relationships with people. He heals the blind beggar. By doing this, Jesus not only restores his sight, but he also restores him socially and religiously. Relationships are restored and the man is once again one of the people of God.
Jesus ignores the comments of the people concerning Zacchaeus. Instead of identifying Zacchaeus as a sinner, he calls him a son of Abraham. Again, Jesus makes Zacchaeus part of God’s family. Jesus confirms this designation by entering Zacchaeus’ home and dining with him.
Jesus by his life, death, and resurrection, has made us people of God’s family. Jesus goes beyond us. Through his cross he brings all people into God’s family. Whatever has separated us in the past is nullified by the cross. We are all family—brothers and sisters in Christ. As family, we realize the likenesses of ourselves rather than our differences, and we seek love and care for each other.
When a person meets Jesus, a person is changed. The blind beggar suddenly was able to see. Zacchaeus gave generously of his wealth and sought justice for anyone he had wronged.
We are changed, too, when we encounter Jesus. Sometimes we are changed quickly. At other times, our transformation is gradual. Whichever happens we are changed and we continue to be changed and to be molded into God’s image as we walk with him.
Jesus’ doesn’t wait, however, for us to change before he breaks down the barriers and brings us into his family. Jesus reaches out and gathers us in to his family. God’s love conquers all.
God’s love overcomes so that whether tax collector or teacher, cleric or homemaker – we can hear and believe that salvation has come to us through Christ. God’s love conquers so that all can hear and believe.