Jesus, nearing the end of his earthly time on earth (Luke 19), makes a visit to Jericho a city east and slightly north of Jerusalem. A curious wealthy tax collector in Jericho, Zaccheus, wants to discover more about this Jesus who is entering Jericho. However, a crowd formed making it challenging for the short in stature Zaccheus to catch a glimpse of Jesus. The persistent curious Zaccheus never let his stature set him back, so he climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus and satisfy his curiosity. Jesus spotted this curious tax collector precariously clinging to a sycamore tree and hurried Zaccheus to come down and prepare his house for a visit.
The curious tax collector simply wanted to see Jesus, but would soon be treating Jesus to a meal in his home. It was a “joyful” occasion for Zaccheus, but the crowd grumbled disappointed that Jesus would eat with a sinner. What a stark contrast between the joyful Zaccheus the grumbling crowd.
Zaccheus joyfully had a meal with Jesus made two points to Jesus. First, I give half of all I earn to the poor. Second, if I have defrauded anyone they will be repaid four times what I took from them. The crowd despised the tax collect, but his integrity seem to be intact. However, it wasn’t enough for salvation. Jesus then declared “today salvation has come to this house.”
Curiosity + Persistence + Meal + Jesus = Salvation
We need to pray for persons to be curious about Jesus.
In Romans 16 Paul takes a moment to exercise gratitude for those whom God had brought into his life. Here are a few that caught my attention.
Phoebe: a servant of the church at Cenchreae…a patron of many
Prisca & Aquila: risked their lives for my life…who host a church in their home
Epaenetus: the first convert to Christ in Asia
Andronicus & Junia: kinsmen and fellow prisoners, well known to the apostles, in Christ before me
How are we observing the ministry of other disciples of Christ? How does their ministry inspire and encourage us? Are we acknowledging the ministry of others?
The God of endurance, encouragement, and hope (5, 13) gives Paul a passion to bring the gospel to the Gentiles where Christ had not already been named (18, 20). These three characteristics of God are woven tightly together. Undoubtedly life in the church, whom Paul is writing too, can be exhausting though encouragement gives one hope to finish well. Even the strong will grow weary helping the weak, but the picture of this service is a glimpse into Christ’s accomplishment to come for us who are weak and “bear our reproaches.”
This part of Romans 15 reminds me of Alex Lowe who was called in by the National Park Service to help rescue some stranded Spanish climbers on Denali. One climber who was unable to climb by himself was carried by Alex, at altitude, up 400 vertical feet at a 50 degree angle. There you have the strong obligated to bear the failings of the weak. There we see endurance of the strong providing encouragement and hope to the weak.
You can see a video about Alex here. The story of the rescue is at 4:35 mark.
During the last week I’ve been reflecting on Romans 15:1-6, which arrested my attention as a follower of Christ. In verse 5 Paul describes two of God’s hallmark characteristics, endurance and encouragement. As we live and serve together those “who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak,” which reflects Christ because he rescued us in our failings and weakness. When we serve the weak we reflect harmony and we reflect the good news of Jesus.