Manna for Today

 

Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man (Luke 19:1-10)

 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”  (Luke 19:1-10)
Learn it:

            This story has been canonized in song by Sunday school for children.  In the song, we learn that because Zacchaeus saw the Lord, he became a happy man.  This is a very simple way, but effective, of understanding this story.  Zacchaeus saw himself as the culture saw him.  As a greedy tax collector who did not deserve to have face time with Jesus.  It appears that Zacchaeus knew who Jesus was and just wanted to get a glimpse of Jesus.  Yet Jesus had a bigger plan for him! 

            Jesus said that he “must” stay at his house.  Jesus wanted to show the crowd that his message was good for ALL people.  Not just the people society said was good.  When the crowds heard that Jesus wanted to stay at a tax collectors house they began to murmur.  Jesus was not concerned with what they thought.  By spending time with Zacchaeus Jesus changed his life!  Zacchaeus wanted to not only live a more generous life, but he wanted to correct the wrongs he had done in his life.  Jesus saw his heart changed and he was now a believer.  This is the purpose of Jesus’ ministry, “to seek and save what was lost.”

 
Live it:

            There’s a lot in this story we can learn.  From Zacchaeus we can learn what true repentance looks like.  When a person understands who Jesus is, it will cause a person to radically change their life.  Hopefully when you look back at your life to before you submitted your life to Christ and after, you see a change.  We should also be wanting to make amends with any people we treated poorly after we came to faith.  This is a beautiful way of spreading the gospel and showing the grace of God. 

                Second, we need to have the same mission that Jesus did.  As individuals and as the Church we need to be seeking and saving the lost.  This means more than just having a place that is open to all people.  The body of Christ needs to be “seeking” unbelievers.  If you only have Christian’s as friends, then something in your life needs to change.  It can be awkward and uncomfortable building relationships with unbelievers.  That is something we should welcome if it means they will have a chance to hear the gospel.  This is something we are all called to do and hopefully we are leaning on the Holy Spirit for the strength to do it! 


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Spiritual Sight (Luke 18:31-43)

 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. 33 On the third day he will rise again.”

34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.  (Luke 18:31-43)

Learn it:

            This section starts with Jesus, for the sixth time, foretelling his death.  Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem and he is preparing his disciples for what is about to happen.  Again, the disciples are confused and don’t fully understand what is happening.  They cannot believe that the Messiah would die.  How would God’s plan get to completion if the Messiah dies?  They still do not fully understand what Jesus’ plan is and blind to his ways. 

            As they continue on their journey, they encounter a blind man.  Upon hearing the Jesus is passing through town he cries out to him for healing.  One unique thing is that he refers to Jesus as the “Son of David”.  Even though he is blind he can clearly see who Jesus is.  This story is also the opposite of the previous story with the rich ruler.  He seemed to have everything, but his heart was focused on his money.  In this story, we have a poor blind man and his heart believes who Jesus is.  It is this faith that Jesus accredits to his ability to be healed.  It’s also amazing that through the faith of this social outcast it led to all the people praising God. 

Live it:

            The disciples and the crowd were spiritually blind.  The disciples did not see or understand, what God’s plan was with the Messiah.  Also, the crowd did not fully understand who Jesus was and how much authority he had.  The one person who understood who Jesus was, was a person that society rejected.  I love how Jesus continually flips social norms and makes the “world’s filth” his most beloved.  We need to pray that God would give us the eyes to see his plans and be able to trust him.  Jesus is the Son of God and his plans are perfect!  We need wisdom to understand his plans and faith to trust him.  When we are able to do that it will lead to us and others praising God!


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Where Does Your Heart Rest?  (Luke 18:18-30)

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”  (Luke 18:18-30)

Learn it:

            It may seem like this story is strictly about money and not letting you into heaven, but it is more to do with not having idols that we find our security in.  This ruler was serious about his faith and obeyed the law.  From the outside he looked like a strong follower of God.  Jesus could see through him to his heart.  That is why Jesus challenged him to sell his possessions and come follow him.  Jesus knew how much the ruler needed his money and that is where his heart was.  Jesus wants us to love him above everything else!  He does not want just our obedience.  He was us to be obedient because we love him completely. 

            After hearing this the disciples were shocked and wondered how anyone would be able to get into heaven.  Peter was even a little concerned about himself.  Jesus reaffirms them that anything we sacrifice for the kingdom of God that we will be repaid either in this life or the age to come.  Eternal life is going to better than anything we would ever receive here on earth.  It can be hard to remind ourselves about that when we do not see it.  That’s where faith comes in! 

Live it:

            Don’t worry, Jesus is not asking all of us to go sell all our things and become homeless!  What he wants is our hearts and trust.  Some people may put too much trust in their money and not in the Lord.  Maybe for others it could be their jobs, family, or a hobby they do.  It is the things that we do that define us.  Are we defined by our wealth, our job, our social status or are we defined by being a child of God?  If someone were to ask you about yourself what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Would you immediately say you are a follower of Christ or would you tell them your job title?  For me, I struggle with not saying my job title first.  It describes so much of what I do.  But we are only here for a short while!  Why would we define ourselves but something that is temporary and not by eternity? 


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Humility in the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:9-17)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Luke 18:9-17)

Learn it:

            Jesus turns his attention away from his disciples in the first part of this passage.  He begins to talk to people who are prideful and think they are better than everybody else.  He wants to teach them about humility and to do that he uses two people that everyone knows.  The highly respected Pharisee and the putrid tax collector.  He takes the cultures typical opinions of these people and flips them.  Jesus condemns that Pharisee because his prayer is all about himself and how God should be honored at his faithfulness.  Then, he lifts up the tax collector because his prayer displays his need for God’s mercy.  The tax collector is the person we should be modeling our lives after. 

            After that parable, Jesus addresses his disciples because they are getting angry at people who keep bringing their children to Jesus.  They do not think that they are worth Jesus’ time!  Again, Jesus flips man’s understanding.  Not only are they worth Jesus’ time but we should have faith like theirs.  Just like a child is completely dependent on their parents for everything they need, we should be totally dependent on God for what we need.      

Live it:

            It is the theme of humility and trust that link these two stories together.  We must not think too highly of ourselves.  We should measure our life compared to God and when we do that we will always see our need for his mercy.  It is when we compare ourselves to others that pride begins to build up and we say, “at least I am not as bad as so and so.”  Humility is not a characteristic that is always appreciated in our culture but in the kingdom of God, it is highly desired. 

            Second, we are called to have a child-like faith.  That type of faith includes humility because it shows that we get everything we need in life on our own.  It says I need God in every situation.  We cannot do everything on our own.  Pray that God would continue to develop in you a spirit of humility.  That you are aware of your great need for him and how Jesus Christ has covered all of your sins.  Praise God for his great love!


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Pastor’s Corner