sexta-feira, 26 de dezembro de 2014

THE GREATEST OF ALL MIRACLES


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

Luke 19:7 (read 19:1-10) – NIV

Jesus did not seek popularity or fame, but he was always followed by a crowd of admirers. On this occasion his "fans" hindered his ministry by preventing a person in spiritual need to get near him. Jesus needed to go against the opinion of the crowd in order follow his priorities. Jesus did an unpopular thing when he stopped to greet Zacchaeus, the hated chief of the tax collectors. For the crowd, Zacchaeus was an evil man who deserved contempt and to be ignored. For Jesus, Zacchaeus was a lonely person who needed friendship. Jesus found it more important to demonstrate love to Zacchaeus than to project a good public image. Everyone began to grumble against the friendship that Jesus showed with Zacchaeus. Jesus’ priority was to seek the lost, not win applause.

The crowd was expecting miracles and discourses. To his "fans", Jesus did everything wrong. What Zacchaeus deserved was to hear a "good sermon” warning him to stop being so shameful. He needed someone to put him in his place. The attitude of Jesus shocked the public. They expected an energetic confrontation instead of friendliness. What a disappointment!!!

Unlike the crowd, Jesus performed the miracle of love and preached the message of unconditional acceptance. To love others as they are and accept them unconditionally was the ministry of Jesus. That is the model to be followed today. It's harder than preaching sermons, making doctrinal statements and performing "miracles".

Zacchaeus had no friends. Nobody liked him. He lived in a spiritual and social vacuum. He tried to fill the void with material goods, but he was still unhappy. Undoubtedly he heard about Jesus, and that awakened hope within him. He tried to get close, but the hostile crowd prevented his passage. In the face of obstacles Zacchaeus swallowed his pride and dignity. He ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree as though he were a kid in order to see Jesus pass by. But to everyone's surprise Jesus stopped under the tree and called Zacchaeus by name and invited him to come down and receive him in his house. What a contrast between the hostility of the crowd and the friendship of Jesus!

The miracle of the unconditional love of Jesus unleashed another miracle, the transformation of Zacchaeus. Suddenly, Zacchaeus found the greatest wealth in the world, the love of friendship. Money lost its throne. Upon experiencing love Zacchaeus began to share with others.

The sign of salvation is generosity. The moment Zacchaeus announced his decision to distribute his wealth instead of collecting the goods of others, Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house!"

The difference between salvation and damnation is the difference between sharing and hoarding. Selfishness wants to accumulate things both, material and spiritual, and love leads us to share our blessings with others.

The miracle of unconditional love opens our heart to be a friend of the outcast and can influence them to practice justice. Stopping and talking to Zacchaeus was one of the greatest miracles that Jesus performed.

 

Luke 19:1-10 – New International Version (NIV)

ZACCHAEUS THE TAX COLLECTOR

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

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

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

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.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

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