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On the Way to Jerusalem

(Luke 18:31-34; 19:1-10)

Lesson 10 -- first quarter 2001
February 4, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications

Coping with our tough times

"When I am very sick or discouraged or distraught, I don't want to be bothered with you and your problems, OK? I have enough to deal with in my own life; you can't reasonably expect me to muster some interest in another's woes. My platter's piled high, running over and cracking, and you expect me to be aware of and concerned about the needs around me? Get a life!!"

Can you connect with those perspectives and sentiments? I certainly can!

That explains why I am especially challenged by today's passage. Jesus was on His way to mockery, suffering and death, but He did not allow self-absorption to consume Him. He knew an excruciating experience lay ahead of Him, but He did not permit His agony of soul to blind Him to the needs of those about Him.

We all have tough times. Moping, emotional isolation, and social withdrawal are not mature (much less Christian) coping strategies. In the long run, these strategies do not produce satisfactory, healing effects.

Tough times need not demolish us or cast us down emotionally or spiritually. But you can expect them to do exactly that if you focus inwardly during these times. The better coping tactic is to turn your eyes away from yourself and do what Jesus did: minister to the needs of others.

Don't be too busy for others. Don't be too distraught and overcome for others. Don't let your woes and testings turn you from others. Open your eyes and see the needs and woes that others have. Get busy and do what you can to cheer someone else, to help someone else in his tough times, to meet the needs of another who is struggling and gasping under her load.

Is anyone too bad for you?

"Zacchaeus is such a creep. He isn't just a thief, he's a double-crossing thief. I don't trust myself around him (and I definitely don't trust him around me). I can't imagine the thickness of the callouses on his soul. Forget him!"

No way we would say that, right? Well, good for us. But I wonder how often our attitudes don't get perilously close to that.

Look. Just how am I supposed to feel about those who have pushed, led and aided someone dear to me into all manner of unclean living?! Am I not justified in thinking of them as worthless creeps? Do I not have ample reason for despising and rejecting them, for being revolted at the sight of them?

How strange that we should prefer to heal those who are well! How unfathomable that we should want to find only those who are not lost! How unchristian that we should target mostly the not-too-cruddy for cleaning!

If Mary Magdalene and Zacchaeus weren't too bad for Jesus, just who should be too bad, too creepy, too revolting for me?

Why is he here?!

Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. We do not know why, though we might surmise a shallow reason such as curiosity. We do know what a marvelous thing happened to him because he saw Jesus.

Let that be a lesson to us. Sometimes we resist someone because we mistrust or resist his motives. But we never know what the power of the Gospel will work in his life!

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