Zacchaeus is visited by Salvation
The first reading from, the wisdom of Solomon, presents us with something truly awesome to contemplate. In this short reading we are presented with two truths about God that we must hold together. And it is almost too much for us to hold those things together, and I think that's why we are filled with awe and wonder when we consider them.
The two things we are presented with here are as follows:
- First the truly wondrous, greatness of God, who is not just a very great being, but in fact the ground of existence itself. Wisdom says we are like “a speck that tips the scales” compared to God, but not only that, all our existence is only according to the will of God: “How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it?” You see what we are reminded of is that God is not just a being like other created beings in the universe; who happens to be very powerful, the most powerful. We cannot say, “Oh here I am, there you are, there you are, and oh there is God...” God is not one being among many. God is not like a human being but just more powerful, more wise etc. God is not one being among many but the very ground of all our existence. Nothing exists without God willing it. Being-ness itself, is of God. Wisdom says, “Your immortal spirit is in all things.”(Incidentally that is what most atheists get wrong – they want proof of a great being that is out there amongst many other beings. If other beings can be proved to exist or not, so can God. But they categorize God wrongly and therefore come to the wrong conclusion. For God is not just a being among many, but being-ness itself. So there can be no scientific proof of the ground of all being.)So you can see we have on one hand a truly awesome truth about who God is, the ground of all existence – every created thing is contingent on God, owes its being to the divine. And thus that poetic phrase of Wisdom, we are like “a drop of morning dew on the ground”, compared to our living God.
- Yet at the same time, our God, is concerned about us! Now we make the mistake again of thinking about God as if he were a man but much more powerful. We tend to think that the more powerful someone gets the less concerned they are about individuals. It does tend to be the case amongst human beings. But we cannot project this onto God. With God, the very opposite is true. Because God is not merely the most powerful being in the universe, but is the ground of all being, God is concerned about every single minute detail of the universe. God is in fact infinitely concerned about everything that has existed, does exist and will exist. God's attention to detail is unlimited. He knows every single hair on our head, and not a sparrow falls to the ground that He does not know. Yet what is still yet more remarkable is that God waits patiently for us to repent! “Therefore you correct little by little those who trespass, and remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in you, O Lord.”We offend God in our sin, yet even though He is the ground of all being, God waits for us to repent – He gives us time. He waits for us to put our trust in Him.
And so we can make the words of the Psalm our own today, “I will extol thee, my God and King, and bless thy name for ever and ever. … Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” Indeed “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. All thy works shall give thanks to thee, O LORD, and all thy saints shall bless thee!”
Brothers and sisters let us never, ever, take for granted the supreme graciousness, and the unfathomable mercy of God, who condescends to wait for us to repent, to turn to Him and to trust Him.
Let us turn to the Gospel account of our Lord Jesus Christ and Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus got the shock of His life! Zacchaeus thought that he was seeking out Jesus, only to find that our Lord was seeking him out!
In all of us, our hearts are longing for the living God, and we seek Him out. The problem with the human search for God is that we tend to keep God far away. We, as it were, try to carefully creep up on God, as it were, stalking a deer, lest God flee away. The human search for God tends to put God in a frame, or keep God at a distance.
And there was Zacchaeus in the tree looking down on Jesus; observing Him from above. But how shocking! When our Lord comes to the tree where Zacchaeus is, He looks straight at Him, “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today!”
And this is the truth for each and every one of us. You might think you are keeping God at a distance. Looking and pondering Him from afar. But sooner or later He will, as it were, look you in the eye and call you!
And all credit to Zacchaeus for His response is absolutely what it needed to be. He is a wealthy man – he gives away half his property to the poor, just like that. And he says, if he has swindled anyone he will repay fourfold – which is exactly what the law required as a restitution for thievery. Zacchaeus is not the man he was!
And Jesus makes that statement which is just one of those wonderful, wonderful statements in the Gospel. “Today, salvation has come to this house...”
It is a wonderful, wonderful statement of the truth of what has happened. Zacchaeus searched for God, and discovered that God was searching for Him! God called, Zacchaeus responded. He divests himself of half of his property – for Zaccheaus knows his wealth gains him nothing, and it all belongs to his Lord. And “Salvation” comes to his own home. Jesus Christ is Salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not just our Saviour, the one who brings salvation, but He is in Himself “Salvation”. He is in His being, “Salvation.” His name is “God saves”. And “Salvation” visited Zacchaeus' house.
Remember brothers and sisters that “salvation” is coming to you. He who is Salvation is coming to you today! We shall say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Let us mean it! Let us be like Zacchaeus. We are little – we are in fact not even like a speck, or a drop of dew, but Jesus Christ, our incarnate God, who is Salvation, chooses to this day to come to you and to me. What will you say to Him?
2nd November 2013