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Zacchaeus

Phil Blog

There is a scene in one of the Narnia movies where Edward is riding a horse and comes to a halt, and as he does so he calls out, ‘Whoa, horsey!” The horse then turns his head to glance up at Edward as if insulted and responds, “My name is Philip.”

You see, Philip is a suitable name for such an elegant creature as the horse because of what it means. It’s a name derived from the Greek:

‘Philos’ and ‘Hippos’

'Philos' is a term denoted for love, the type found in friendships. Eg. Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly love. Philosophy is philos and sophia - ‘the love of wisdom’.

‘Hippos’ means horse.

So, quite literally, my name means ‘lover of horses’.

Now if anyone knows me, they’ll know I’m not actually that big of a fan of animals. I am by no means a lover of horses.

So how does this tie in with the story of Zacchaeus?

My name doesn’t ‘define’ me, but in the Jewish culture, names have meaning. And the name they give to their offspring is often a prayer and a hope for them to live up to.

‘Zacchaeus’ means ‘the righteous one’, but if you’re familiar with this story then you’ll know that he was anything but. He was “the chief tax collector”. He was traitor to the people. A man obsessed with wealth and status. If Australia had control of NZ, he was working for them. A local working for ‘the dark side’.

The life he lived would not have been a social one. His fellow countrymen did not like spending time with them - anytime they did would mean ‘tax time’. You see, the tax collectors didn’t really have a set wage. They would simply add a bit to whatever tax was required from each person and collect that as their wages. $10 Tax? Make it $12. $100 tax? Oh, ‘my calculations show $150 is owed…'

Despite being a wildy hated man who lived a lonely life of wealth and luxury, it seems Zacchaeus was a curious man. He’d heard rumors of this man named ‘Jesus’, the one whose name means 'God saves'. He had even perhaps heard that this ‘Jesus’ was a friend of Tax Collectors and Sinners!

Hearing that Jesus was going to pass through town, he wanted to see this man for himself! But how? He is noted to be rather short, so he couldn’t see over the crowds. And if he entered the crowds, someone would likely sieze the opportunity to kill him and escape consequences. He was that disliked!

So, instead, he ran ahead and climbed a tree on the outskirts of town. This was an incredibly shameful act! I want you to imagine a business man, super excited because Katy Perry, or the Queen, or some other popular spokesperson has come to town. He runs down the street, his tie flying over his shoulder, he jumps on top of a skip bin to climb onto the shop awning, where if he lies down just right, he’ll catch a glimpse, but won’t be seen by the crowd. It’s a funny picture, but I imagine it would’ve been just like this. He thinks he’s being clever, everyone’s facing Jesus, no one will see him up in the tree!

So Jesus continued through the town, probably shaking people’s hands, saying hello and pressing on towards Jerusalem where he and his disciples were headed, at least until he finally passes through the other side of town and stops.  

At this point, Zacchaeus' heart races. "What’s happening? Is he going to see me and point me out to the crowd? I’ll have no escape up here! They’ll kill me!”

Jesus looks up and says, “Zacchaeus! Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your house today!”

At this point I imagine the crowd are like, ’He said what now….?!’ Zacchaeus probably had the same reaction initially! But Luke tells us that he “quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy!”

The crowd is infuriated!! How dare he choose this despicable man over them! Jesus could have chosen any one of them who observed the law, who was righteous, but instead, he chose the one guy who was making all the wrong choices!

Zacchaeus, possibly shocked and surprised at this act of grace and love, then makes a commitment. He promises to give half of his great wealth to the poor. And not only this, but he promises to give back four times the amount he stole!

The love of Christ, shown through an invitation to dine with Zacchaeus, is enough to change Zacchaeus’s life forever.

No one said to Zacchaeus, ‘You are doing the wrong thing and Jesus loves you anyway!’ Zacchaeus saw this and responded accordingly! He knew where he was going wrong and saw to fix his mistakes and help the community he was in.

His parent’s prayer held within his name was answered! He was becoming that righteous man they hoped he would be.

Jesus’ response to this act of Zacchaeus was then to say, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Zacchaeus was lost but became found.

Zacchaeus was a sinner who found redemption through Christ.

Zacchaeus was a jew who became a true son of Abraham.

Zacchaeus was saved by the man who saves, Jesus.

Jesus sought out Zacchaeus when no one else thought he was worth anything. Jesus offered him a relationship with Him, and Zacchaeus' life was changed forever.

You see, regardless of what our name means or what defines us, he calls us friend. Jesus calls us friend!

Where do you see yourself in this story?

  • Are we like Zacchaeus, knowing we’ve made wrong choices, hoping to hide from Christ, hiding in a tree, hoping he’ll just pass by?
  • Are we like the crowd, pushing out those who we dislike, scrambling for Jesus’ attention at the expense of those who truly need him?
  • Are we like Jesus, looking out for those who are hiding, seeking the lost, the lonely, the hurt and rejected?

Come up with a name. Pray for them. Look out for them. It’s a cliché, but clichés are often that way because they’ve stood the test of time – WWJD?

Humour Me, God...

Linda Blog

I've always heard that God can be rather humorous. I'm not sure whether our humour is completely different or I'm just too slow to get it straight away, but I’m one of those people who always has a ‘click’ moment like 10 minutes after the joke is over and miss the opportunity to laugh at it, but take it anyway. My guess is that it is the latter.

Not only does it apply to humour, but also life. I find that I'm either rushing in the fast lane and miss out on the view, or I don’t take the time to stop and reflect and miss out on lessons that I could have learnt.

Something I learnt at Revolution Hawaii (RevHi) is that God does have a plan, and more often than not, makes it a regular thing to flip my plans so I have trust in him more. Recently, I've found it's so much more of an adventure than I could ever imagine.

Very quickly after starting the Revolution Hawaii essentials course (which is an intensive discipleship training course), I realised I had made a mistake not staying for the whole year. Don’t worry, God had other ideas. The day I arrived in Hawaii, the camp coordinator, Fulton, asked what I did and told him that I was a nurse. Straight away he stated, as more of a passing comment, that they were looking for a nurse for summer camp at the place we were living - Camp Homelani (Hawaiian for 'heavenly home'). It was a beautiful serene place with palm trees, cabins and its own little piece of the beach - perfectly named. 

Fulton’s comment was something that I couldn’t brush off, and a month into this journey of healing, God showed me what my next step was - I had an interview and became Camp Homelani's next summer camp nurse.

Before I went to Revhi, I was working in a rest home as a nurse. How I became a nurse is another story of God’s perfect timing, but that’s for another time. Pretty much from the start, people kept saying "you’re going to work with young people." I thought that was rather hilarious seeing as I was currently nursing old and palliative people. But sure enough, it was God telling me what was ahead, whether I was ready for the ride or not. Oh, what an adventure it has been! From being a camp nurse for kids (and staff) to returning home after 6 amazing months only to become the youth worker at the church I grew up in, the one I call home. I was welcomed home with open arms.

One of my best friends, Claire, was the youth worker but took a year off after having an adorable little son, so I filled in for her. These guys are probably the best thing that could have happened to me. They are a daily reminder that God is good, that he loves me and has a plan bigger than my own. I've made some amazing friends and been able to use what I learnt at Revhi to help guide the youth towards him too. They have taught me how to be relational and how listening is sometimes the easiest thing (which is also funny because I'm actually partly deaf - more of God's humour) because I don’t have all the answers. He has used every situation for his good because I've been able to be there for people in ways that I wouldn't have been able to without the experiences I’ve had. Awaken Youth, Robert and Susan (my Corps Officers) and their family, the rest of the church, and more importantly, God, have kept me strong and hopeful when my world fell apart after I returned.

Through this, I feel as though God has been holding me, moulding me, breaking me, remaking me, healing me and guiding me.

Yes, God, you got the last laugh - even though sometimes I don't get it straight away, I LOVE your humour. I give you permission to keep using me as your joke subject because I'm all in - don't worry I'm sure I'll understand it later on.

P.S. I really recommend Revolution Hawaii. If you are between 18 and 30 and want your world rocked, to fall more in love with Jesus, doing mission every day, then apply now at: 

https://www.revolutionhawaii.org They are taking application NOW!