Am I right in saying no-one likes a tax man? Well, in this Parable no one did except one. On one of the days that Zacchaeus sat at his place and people came to pay their taxes there was an air of something different. As each person made his payment he returned to his family. Gradually, he was surrounded by the poorest people in Jericho. It was no wonder the crowd grew angry as they saw, not for the first time, Zacchaeus put some of the taxes they had paid into his own pocket. The people were becoming furious but at the same time there was a difference as Zacchaeus stretched out to see behind the crowd. He was a very short man and some of the people would have found it amusing as he struggled and began to climb a tree to see the man that they all spoke about.
Suddenly there was a voice from within the people, a voice that showed caring and even love, and the people became quieter and they heard the voice say, “Come down immediately, Zacchaeus, I must stay at your house today” and he came down and saw Jesus. The silence ended as the people began to realise that Jesus had called to this man who had cheated them, who had made them so poor that their children were not fed and became sick. The crowd didn’t understand what had happened and muttered to each other. Why had Zacchaeus, a sinner, been called? Little did they know that the sinner was beginning a new life, the kind of life where he gave away half his possessions to the poor and four times what he had taken back to those he had cheated. Jesus said, “Today this man has repented of his sin and is saved. This is what I came to do. Remember the lost sheep – this man was lost and is now found.”
Today, I chose in my thoughts the Parable because as we journey following Jesus, we will meet many lost souls and may be led to save them for Jesus. Many years ago, I was called by God to serve Jesus in Long Itchington and more recently in Long Compton. As you have known for a while, that service is coming to a close. Sadly, I have to tell you that due to age and poor health the time has come for me to retire. My house is now up for sale and some time between now and the summer, I expect to be moving to live nearer to my children. I am sure you would not expect me to drop everything and I hope to be able to help to continue to support you. I have plans to share with you even though, because of COVID-19 and Lockdown, we still have to follow certain rules.
Today is Day 17 of Lent. We thank you Father for all that we read in the Global Care book, for all the people we learn about week by week and we thank you for the opportunity to pray for the work of Global Care and for the children that are ours through sponsorship. We thank you Father for the messages that speak to us as we read through the time of Lent. Today we have been reminded that You are our Father who loves us all but, not only that, you know us by name.
Loving God, that is so wonderful that whoever we are, whatever we do, when we come to You there is no uncertainty. You know us immediately and you know us by name, and that our names matter. You respond to us with love.
Dearest Lord because you know us, we are assured that by the Holy Spirit You intervene in the difficult times of our lives and help us to manage those times in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen