“And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’”Luke 19:5
I’m a decent person, I promise. But at the risk of embarrassing myself, this Sunday School teacher actually contemplated turning down the offer to provide this devotional today. Why you ask? I am busy! Aren’t you? My days are full with leading local PTA and various school district councils and boards, hosting weekly Moms In Prayer meetings and a Bible study, working with Pathway to Victory, and of course, the usual mom-fare: laundry, dinner, home maintenance, errands, and parenting two teenage boys. Oh, I also recently decided to take up golf. So my agenda this week did not include taking a deeper dive into the concept of reaching out to others.
Ahh, the dreaded interruption. I’m hardly unique. As I sat back and contemplated who else was in the middle of a busy moment when called to reach out to someone, I immediately thought of the story of Zacchaeus. Remember that wee little man? But as I reread that fabled story this week, my focus this time turned to Jesus.
I realized as I reread the context of that account, that Jesus wasn’t just strolling along one afternoon, contrary to the impression my childhood Sunday School teacher gave me. Far from it. He was literally days away from, and walking directly toward his own brutal execution. What’s remarkable is that He knew what lay ahead of Him within a matter of days, and yet He lived out His life’s purpose: to do the will of His Father. Nevertheless, in fact.
If I knew I would be crucified within a week, I’m not sure exactly what I would be doing, but I doubt it would be paying much attention to the needs of the town’s pariahs trying to get a peek at me. And if you stay in the text long enough you will notice the unmistakable urgency that God felt we ought to be aware of: Zacchaeus ran to the tree (Luke 19:4); Jesus told him to hurry down that tree (Luke 19:5); He insisted that they must do it today (Luke 19:5), and Zacchaeus quickly climbed down (Luke 19:6). In that moment, Jesus intentionally reached out to a stranger. He chose to put His agenda on hold and see with His Father’s eyes the more important need at that moment. Consequently, we can now expect to pass a certain short fellow on the streets of gold one day and possibly his descendants.
Are you willing to submit your agenda to the Lord daily? How about in those moments when He nudges you to make a conversation with someone you had no intention of talking to and invite them to church? To Sunday School? To lunch? I get it. Schedules are tight and agendas are powerful. Nevertheless, let’s you and I commit to getting in the habit of embracing those interruptions and seek those peering out from the sycamore trees.