Luke 19:3-4 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way.
Today is the beginning of Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday, and we remember that from dust we came and unto dust we shall return. Today we begin by prayer and penitence to prepare for Easter. And today we also begin a study of the Lordís Prayer.
Our Father who art in heaven. What does this mean ? With these words God wants us to encourage us to believe that He is our true father and that we are his true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as loving children ask their loving Father.
Hallowed be Thy name. What does this mean ? Even though God's name is holy in itself, we pray in this petition that it may be holy among us also. How is God's name kept holy? God's name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God's Word dishonors the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!
Now what does this all have to do with our Gospel lesson about Zaccheaus? Simply this. Zaccheaus could have used any of a number of excuses. He was rich, he was a tax collector, he was smart, but none of these things could get him what he wanted most. For he wanted to see Jesus.
Zaccheaus could have been the first of the victims who are not responsible. After all he was short, that should be enough to justify doing a variety of things. But Zaccheaus wasnít a victim, not of shortness, nor of his being a tax collector.
Zaccheaus used what he had, and he figured out a way to see Jesus - even though it was a large crowd, he climbed a tree. Now dignified officials do not climb trees. Most adults, except perhaps in hunting season, do not climb trees. And if we were going to climb a tree, weíd change into our tree climbing clothes. But there was no time for any that. So Zaccheaus climbed a tree, and he got to see Jesus, and it was worth all the trouble. Jesus saw Zaccheaus up the tree, and he said "Zaccheaus, you come down, for Iím coming to your house today."
Now Zaccheaus didnít know Jesus was coming, he wasnít prepared, he hadnít had time to prepare a special meal. But Zaccheaus didnít have any excuses, and Zaccheaus didnít complain about being a victim, but he did the best with what he had. And he was so glad that Jesus was coming to his house, he gave half of his money to the poor. After all, Jesus was a much greater treasure.
So what about us today? Perhaps, if we really want to hallow Godís name, perhaps its time we put away our excuses, stop playing the victim, and open our eyes. Jesus is coming, that the one thing thatís important. Its the only thing thatís really happening. Jesus is coming, bringing salvation, forgiveness and eternal life.
There may not be a need for us to climb a tree, for Jesus is as close as our Church and our Bible. There is no need to prepare a feast, for Jesus provides the banquet, it is his body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. And thereís no need to clean the house, for Jesus accepts us just as we ware, with all our sins, faults and imperfections. And the good news is, that as it was so long ago, so it is even today, Jesus passes our way, arrives at our door, and what else can we do but open.
And we are glad, because Jesus comes to each one of us, and dwells in our hearts, and grants us his grace, and sends his spirit to work faith in us, that we may be his own, and live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness innocence and blessedness.
And all this is why we find ourselves this day, at the beginning, wondrous things are yet in store, and we use the time to prepare ourselves, for Jesus is coming, and so is Easter. And in thanksgiving, we prepare, for Jesus sake.