We get closer to Bethlehem as Christmas Day draws near, and Jesus is getting closer to Jerusalem. In reading through today’s chapter, we can see some of what is on his heart and mind.
As he passes through Jericho, Jesus looks up at a man sitting on a sycamore tree, obviously watching Jesus and his entourage. We know that, earlier, the man—Zacchaeus—had tried to catch a glimpse of Jesus through the crowd, but he was too short, so he ran ahead, climbed that tree, and waited to see the Master. A few moments later, the unthinkable happened. Jesus looked up. And stopped. And spoke to him.
I love it when Jesus stops to meet a seeker. He always seems to know who the seekers are, whether they say a word or not. Perhaps Jesus saw the effort Zacchaeus made to see him, or perhaps he knew, by the Spirit, this tax collector’s heart. And what a gift Jesus gave him! In front of the whole crowd, Jesus invited himself to this man’s house. The narrative tells us that Zacchaeus hurried down and received him joyfully.
You know the story as well as I. While the gathered Pharisees were murmuring about how inappropriate this was, Zacchaeus was showing the appropriate fruit of a tax collector’s repentance: He became a giver. Jesus said, “Salvation has come to his house this day.”
Since everyone there had just witnessed this, and because he was nearing Jerusalem and all of the people—-including his closest companions—-still thought he was going to usher in the kingdom in a way that was less than what God’s plan called for, Jesus begins to teach. I wonder if, in the parable of the Ten Talents, he was talking about all that he has taught them and what they are to do with it after he has left. Perhaps it is not about money at all, and not even about gifts and talent, since gifts and talents seem to remain intact even if, unused, they bring no fruit. In the context of what’s happening, it seems to me that his last words here suggest as much:
“I will tell you that to everyone who has [received understanding and acted on my words] will be given more [harvest from them.] But from him who has not [acted on them] even what [understanding] he has will be taken away from him…” (vs 26)
Later we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, the beloved city that missed “the time of it’s visitation.” This is the heart of one who knows what happens when his words—-compared in scripture to light, gold, bread and seed—-are rejected or neglected for whatever reason.
It makes me want to revisit my own heart’s commitment to holding fast to His Word.