Marissa Mahoney, December 17, 2013
Advent brings us to a spiritual state of waiting and reflection, preparing for the coming of the Savior, Jesus. We’re expectant and hopeful and joyful that the God of the universe has loved us to the point of becoming Incarnate, to dwell among us.
Recently, among the hustle and bustle of making holiday plans with my family and Christmas shopping, I felt like something was missing. I felt compelled to stop and think about about what it really means not just to wait for Jesus, but what our response should be to his presence.
Celebrating the birth of the Savior no doubt elicits joy, expressions of peace toward one another, and of course gift-giving. Yet I believe we are challenged to more than that. For me, the story of Jesus and Zaccheus helped shed some light on this (Luke 19:1-10).
In this story Jesus is walking through the crowds of people in Jericho, and spotted Zacchaeus in a tree. He told him to come down and promptly invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house –
“I must stay at your house today.”
Despite the grumblings of those around Jesus, who felt that he was rewarding a sinner by gracing him with his presence, Jesus singled out Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was who he had come for – the lost, the disregarded. Zacchaeus was highly disliked in his community, not just because he was rich, but because his riches came from the oppression of his own people. As the chief tax collector, he was distrusted and labeled a sinner – no doubt because of his practices in collecting taxes. He often gleaned for his own pockets more than what was necessary from an already marginalized people.
But here was Jesus, calling out Zaccheus in the crowd, who was all the way up in a sycamore tree – seeking to see who this Jesus was, and Jesus already knew him. He knew his name, he knew that he was in the tree because he was too short to see in the crowds, and he knew how he was regarded in his own community.
And when Jesus called him out, called him down, and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house, we see hope. The expectant hope of transformation was in Zacchaeus’ response.
What happens when Jesus comes to your house?
Justice – Zacchaeus stood in front of Jesus and was convicted. He pledged to give half his possessions to the poor, and return four times what he had gained unjustly. (v. 8)
Salvation – Jesus declared that “salvation has come” to Zacchaeus’ house, because he came to “seek out and save the lost” (v. 9-10)
Restoration – By doing this publicly within the community, Jesus restored Zacchaeus to his people, reminding them that “he too is a son of Abraham.” Jesus’ ministry contained many instances where he restored the outcasts to their community by validating their identity as people of God.
Jesus’ self-invitation into our world and into our lives is ever present. In this Advent season, take some time to reflect on how the presence of our Savior can compel justice, save the lost, and restore those in our community whose humanity we often fail to see.
It is my hope that 1K Churches becomes a place where more and more of us can explore what it means when Jesus comes to our house and challenges us to seek out justice, salvation, and restoration in our local economies.