The day is hot and the wind blows up the dust. My outer clothes are dirty and need to be washed. I already need to bathe. Sweat is streaming down my forehead and temples. I can smell my already damp bathrobe collar and the day has barely started. I can barely breathe.
On my way to work, through the narrow streets of Jericho, I see my stall in front of me in the town square, but one of the locals pushes me and I stumble. The fall on the slab causes my right knee and my hand to bleed. It is not the first time. Things like this happen to me a lot. My community hates me. I wish I could quit this job and find another one, but the pay is good, really good. Oh, the choices we make; the life we lead.
I heard a rumor the other day that a man named Jesus was going through our city again, on his way to Jerusalem for the Passover. The last time he was here, Cassian, my immediate supervisor, told me I couldn’t leave my post.
Hopefully today is the day. I’ll do my best to find out who this man really is. Everyone is talking about him. He has gained an incredible reputation throughout this region. Maybe just seeing it will give me the strength and courage to face my fears and leave this vile life of taxing my brothers and sisters in the faith.
I am miserable. I hate my life. I just want to be accepted by my family and friends. To respect again.
I hear the crowd. The noise and agitation are getting louder and louder. Jesus is heading this way! My boss said he would not be available for the rest of the day and that I should take the money and receipts and leave them with Claudius. I don’t trust him either. I gave him what I had and told him urgently that I had to take care of important business and that I would come back tomorrow.
Jerusalem is to our southwest. I have been there many times, especially during our sacred rituals and festivals. It seems the whole town has gathered around him to touch him and hear what he has to say. Must see it!
Many have been healed, I hear. Maybe I can get the peace I so desperately need.
The children are running beside me. This is my chance. I know Josiah has a big sycamore tree with branches hanging over the street, just up the path. We have to get there now! Everyone’s blocking my view. I can’t see above them! Then I hear a whisper: “Go to the tree. ”
My Hebrew name Zacchaeus means: clean, pure. For much of my life I have been anything but.
And then my world stops. I look down and this man looks up. All the people stop and everyone becomes silent. He looks at me and smiles. Not only that, he speaks to me directly by name. And get this, to my amazement and to the amazement and contempt of everyone around, this man Jesus comes to my house for lunch. I can’t believe what I just heard … and neither can anyone else. Stunned, I just sit there.
After a minute Jesus gently draws my attention again and I don’t remember stepping down from the tree. He kisses me and immediately I feel this inexpressible joy come over me. When we get home, my wife quickly asks our servants to wash the feet of the 13 men who are our guests while she and her servants prepare a meal.
As the men lie down at the table and break bread, I listen to Jesus pray. All of us, including the women and servants present, absorb every word this man speaks. Then, out of nowhere, I get up and say words that, even to me, are surprising! I exclaim that I give half of my wealth to the poor and if I defrauded anyone of anything, I will give it back quadruple.
With this statement, Jesus declares that salvation has come to this house today.
The presence of Jesus has just changed my life and that of my whole family. Can you believe the words that just came out of my mouth? In the coming months, neither will those in my community.
What happened to me can happen to you. I guarantee it! Just put your name in the title above and repeat the words as if Jesus was telling them to you. He wants to go out with you today. Will you invite him?
Joe Wagley is a real estate agent and broker in Lenawee County. He is the owner of the Wagley group in Adrian. He can be reached at 517-265-6000 or by email at [email protected].