Last night for our summer WNW gathering we covered a Sunday School lesson that we had recently skipped when our church services were at Regional Park. The lesson we covered was the familiar Sunday School story of Zacchaeus. We began the night with a quick game called "Cluck, Cluck, Chuckle, Chuckle" while we set in our circle. Each round there would be someone in the group who was "the clown." The group's goal was to figure out who it was. I would say the phrase that the game is named after and ask "who is the clown?" while pointing my fingers at different people. The trick to it was that whoever spoke first trying to guess who the clown was, was actually the clown. So after a couple of rounds, people started to slowly figure out the trick to the game. After several figured it out, I asked who felt left out, and those who did not yet understand raised their hands. I explained the trick and moved into the night's lesson.
We read the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. We discussed what was taking place in each verse. Zacchaeus was wealthy because he was a tax collector, which meant he had made his wealth from cheating people. He was a short man so in order to see Jesus he climbed a sycamore tree. Until recently I did not understand the significance of Luke mentioning the type of tree. Sycamore trees, however, have slick bark which would make it extremely difficult to climb. In addition, the branches were high off the ground. Zacchaeus went to a great difficult effort to be able to see Jesus. Of course Jesus calls Zacchaeus down and goes to his house. We do not know all that was said between the two that day, but we do know Zacchaeus had a change of heart and became a Christ follower. If you only read verse 8 and 9 it would appear that Zacchaeus generosity and works brought him salvation, but that is completely untrue. This is why it is important to study the context of a verse. Zacchaeus newfound generosity stemmed out of the fact that he had been changed by Jesus. Of course the fact that Jesus went to Zacchaeus' home angered many people since Jesus would have communion with this man who was considered an outcast to society because of his evil deeds. But what if Jesus had ignored Zacchaeus? Would he had ever made the life change he did? Possibly not. This is why it is necessary for us to reach out to those who are viewed as an outcast. I challenged the students to think about who led them to Jesus. We should be thankful for that/those people and in response want to be the one who leads others to Him. Just as in the opening game those who did not understand felt left out or like outcasts. The truth is, whoever does not know Jesus is left out and it is our responsibility to reach out to them and minister to them with the gospel.