“This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”
Matthew 10:41-42 (The Message)
I had a lovely surprise yesterday. The doorbell rang and there was my dear friend, Joy. I thought she wouldn’t come until after four o’clock, so it was a surprise. Unfortunately I didn’t have much to offer beyond a hot cup of coffee so, with that in mind, today I have spent the past hour (slowly) baking a ‘Feel Good Cake’. As I stirred the ground almonds into the mixture I began humming this old Gracie Fields song. My thoughts turned more whimsical (they inevitably do) and into my mind came the story of Zaccheus:
‘There was a chief tax collector… named Zacchaeus, who was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a little man and could not see Jesus because of the crowd. So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to Zacchaeus, “Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today.”’
I love the image of Zacchaeus perched on the branch like a right numpty and Jesus, instead of asking what on earth Zacchaeus is doing, says He ‘must stay’ in his house! Not even ‘please’, it’s ‘I must’. It’s a ridiculous scene.
Isn’t the gift of redemption, so undeserved, ridiculously wonderful for all of us, too?
I wonder if Zacchaeus momentarily worried about not having enough in the house to give to his guest? Did he worry that he wasn’t good enough? Apparently not.
‘Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed him with great joy. All the people who saw it started grumbling, “This man has gone as a guest to the home of a sinner!”’
Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Listen, sir! I will give half my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times as much.”
Jesus said to him, “Salvation has come to this house today… The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”’
Luke 19:6-10 (GNT)
Zacchaeus knew. He knew that all he had to do was to welcome his guest. With the welcoming came something he had never known before – a something that caused him to not only pay back those he had ripped off, but to pay them back four-fold. He even gave away half of what he owned to the poor!
Have any of us ever done anything like that, just because we met Jesus…?
This morning I waved off my darling Fluff on her first ever school trip. Fresh-faced and rosy cheeked she dragged her suitcase and various bags of ‘essentials’ as quickly as she could into school. She could barely contain her excitement. Fluff and schoolmates will be building rafts, climbing, swinging and doing all sorts of marvellous foresty things. I imagine Zacchaeus felt a similar excitement. How wonderful! And the best thing of all is that I don’t have to do anything to receive His presence into my home. I just have to welcome Him, like that excited little girl.
If Jesus was on His way to your house, what would you greet Him with?
‘It will be like a man who goes away from home on a trip and leaves his servants in charge, after giving to each one his own work to do and after telling the doorkeeper to keep watch. Watch, then, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming—it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise.’
Mark 13:34-35 (GNT)
*In the interests of honesty, I should point out that this is not the cake I baked, but a generic wikipedia cake. My cakes never turn out like this.