“What you see is what you get”
On Monday I was reading an article written by a fashion journalist whose job ultimately led to regularly interviewing models and she said this of her experiences:
“I know it sounds terribly glamorous but if I’d gnawed off a finger every time a model told me her looks were due to water, sleep and whatever product she’s paid to spruik, I’d be digit-less. Honestly, in 20 years of asking – and I’ve had big names babble in to my voice recorder – not one has spoken the truth, namely: “I’m lucky to look like this. It’s all down to genes. Don’t let either of us pretend that it isn’t.”
But then she goes onto to talk of model Kate Moss who she says is a breath of fresh air because she just goes about her business, being herself in her chosen vocation allowed to her primarily through her gene pool. A “super model” with the eyes of the fashion world on her who’s made mistakes that she doesn’t deny or revel in. She quirky and flawed and in the street you’d barely know it was her which makes her more real. But mostly, it’s because she’s just like everyone else-just like us, and gives the whole of herself-just as she is.
It reminds me of a sports commentator who said that on nearly every occasion that he’s met a gifted athlete, he almost always has left stunned that besides that persons unassailable gift in their sporting field, they are just like us.
Today we are invited to look into the mirror of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Zacchaeus who we will see is pretty much just like us.
A lot has been written about Zacchaeus pondering and developing a background for him politically, socially, emotionally, religiously and psychologically. Truth is we don’t know much about him and why he was up the tree other than what we are told, that “he was a rich tax collector and being short in stature he climbed a sycamore tree so he could “see who Jesus was”.
All this makes logical non-ground breaking stuff when we know from scripture and history that while on His current journey to Jerusalem. Jesus just previously had an interesting encounter with a rich man in Galilee who was saddened when Jesus told him to give his possessions to the poor and follow him, to which Jesus replied that it was easier to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, and those around Jesus hearing this were amazed at His statement and asked “who then can be saved?” And we remember Jesus answering “what is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Then Jesus, in healing a blind man as he approaches Zacchaeus’ home city of Jericho it is understandable that he has attracted quite a crowd. Such a crowd that Zacchaeus needed to gain some higher ground to get a view and with Jericho being one of the wealthiest cities in Palestine with tightly packed-yet spacious villas and many parks, it easier to gain a height advantage by climbing a tree in the park than trying to commandeer someone’s roof top.
Hardly ground breaking material and if the Annual Dubbo Autobahn V8 supercar race wound its way down Macquarie Street and up Ronald Street, a few of us would find ourselves trying to get the best vantage point available. Be it as a guest in the sponsors corporate box or hanging from one of the branches out the front of the manse. And afterwards like going to the movies or an AFL game, enjoy the entertainment, go home and life carries on as normal.
Well not for the tree hugging Zacchaeus whose life’s climate is about to change dramatically when the star of the show Jesus turns to him and tells him to hurry and come down as he wants to stay with him, and thankfully Zacchaeus response is not like that of the gentleman who by chance happened to be sitting next to Tony Abbott on a plane flight from Canberra to Sydney and after sharing an enjoyable flight together he asked if when they exit the plane, that when Tony sees that the man’s friends have welcomed him, it would give them a kick if Tony approached him like an old friend. Agreeing, Tony approached the man and with his friends present said: “George it’s great to see you again, what have you been up too” only to hear: “Oh not now Tony, give me a break I’m with my friends”.
Zacchaeus, being scorned by those religious in the crowd as a sinner does not fall to such a temptation of responding to Jesus with any big noting or look at me gestures. He just simply says yes and in doing so His life will never be the same again and we see he is no different to us.
Because Zacchaeus story is our story, we did not find Jesus, he found us. We did not invite Jesus in, He invites himself in and our lives are changed to know hope, peace and life.
We could stop right there but there still are a few loose ends that need answering.
Zacchaeus is a man of some means. He’s rich and we know that “just” prior Jesus told another rich man that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. So how did Zacchaeus manage it? Well he didn’t, God did, because “what is impossible for men is possible for God.”
Maybe Zacchaeus at least played a part in it after all he did decide to give away half of his money and to pay back four times what he may have cheated anyone, surely that counted for something towards Jesus announcing that salvation had come to him and his house. No. Jesus words of salvation within this scenario as it plays out were directed to some of the bystanders who could not understand why he would stay in the house of Zacchaeus, a sinner. Jesus’ response is to tell them that Zacchaeus also belongs to God’s family, and on this day blessing and trust have come to him and only after that does Zacchaeus come through with his commitment to share his money and change his life.
Zacchaeus is just like us. Jesus found us. He invited himself in and forgave us and we see and know for ourselves, that in Jesus Christ “what was impossible for us, was possible for God”, and our lives as we knew them have changed.
Not changed that we look different. Not changed that we need to change the pattern of our lives in where we work, play or live. But changed because we now see ourselves and our lives through the forgiven eyes of He who came to us. Ourselves, quirky and flawed yet cherished by the Lord who does demand we be anything else. Our quirks and flaws that bring the light of his love to this world through those we meet in our normal lives, by being normal. By being ourselves and while that may not wash with some people, it will with those who we accept into our lives as they are, and realise not the chains of religion, but the freedom of Christ as they see, they are just like us-that in God’s love for us, that while we were still sinners he sent his Son to die for us, and for them.
Be we a supermodel, a tax collector up a tree, pastor, banker, mechanic, auto detailer, husband, wife, son, daughter, rich or poor-because Jesus Christ came to us and invited himself in, we need not be something we are not, but revel in what we are-and that is a saved Son and daughter of the one who gave everything and demanded nothing and in the fleeting time left to us, pray we too demand nothing of others, but give the whole of ourselves to them, just as we are to those just as they are that the light of Christ and his message of acceptance and forgiveness shines bright to those in the crowd who know him not. Amen.