Jesus Invites Us to Unusual Unity
The lesson is, Jesus invites us to unusual unity. Which is such a bizarre lesson considering the text you choose for us this week. You have to admit that aligning ourselves with Christ is very different than what most do in our world today. Imagine how incredible our world would be if everyone attempted to align themselves with Christ!
About the Story
Jon: Today’s story takes place in Jericho. News had spread quickly about Jesus’ arrival, and just like the other places Jesus had been to, everyone wanted to hear him teach and heal!
Bradon: Now, what was unusual about Jesus is that people accused him of spending time with sinners or at least everyone thought of them as sinners. One of these groups that people thought very poorly of and considered sinners were the tax collectors.
Jon: That’s right. Remember, the Roman empire was in charge. They occupied much of the known world at that time. Being the ruling empire, they required taxes from the people and nations they had conquered.
Bradon: So they would hire local people to be the tax collectors. They would often collect more than they needed to and then only give the Romans what was required, keeping the extra money collected for themselves.
Jon: Knowing this, it seems obvious why they considered the tax collectors sinners, or if we were to use a more familiar word, we would call them crooks.
Bradon: Is that a more familiar word? Anyway, let’s get into the story.
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Bradon: Ok, I think I see where you are going with this lesson; Jesus invites us to unusual unity. Maybe connect some dots for us.
Jon: Jesus calls us to align ourselves with him, to change the way we think and the way we live, to submit our lives to Him as Lord. Zacchaeus did this well. On the other hand, the crowd loved what Jesus was saying and doing, but the author does not indicate that they submitted their lives to Christ, as Zacchaeus did.
Bradon: Right! People had thought the worst of Zacchaeus, and we don’t know how their lives were changed or stayed the same. Ok, but what is so unusual about being unified with Christ?
Jon: I see two things that make unity with Christ unusual compared to the stuff we align ourselves with in our world! First, Christ redefines our pursuits when we align ourselves with Him. Zacchaeus was wealthy and would continue to earn a lot of money as a tax collector. Instead of keeping it for himself, he now earned money to benefit the poor rather than himself. Whatever it is we are pursuing, Christ will use it for his purpose.
The second thing that I see as so unusual is how attractive our lives become. Think about Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector, and the people did not like him because of that. Everyone thought he was a scoundrel, a crook, a sinner. Before Jesus left Zacchaeus’ home, Zacchaeus said he would give half his wealth to the poor, people talked about Zacchaeus’ commitment to giving to the poor. The people would later think highly of Zacchaeus because of the generous commitment they heard from him that day and eventually would experience through his giving.
Bradon: So being unified with Christ will redefine people’s pursuits around God’s purpose and will turn people’s lives from a self-serving life to one that is about loving others! From self-ish to self-less
Jon: You said it well. Unity with Christ is Unusual but has outstanding outcomes!