“Today Salvation Has Come” Luke 19:9
If you’re like me, you could use some salvation about now. Holy Crap. I won’t go through the litany (we all know too well) of everything coming down in this country/world. But the shooting of elementary children in Uvalde, TX, and in Buffalo NY really hit me hard. I have felt overwhelming despair and heartbreak. To be honest, I’ve wrestled with true hopelessness.
Then I felt a story from then gospel of Luke (19:1-10). By felt, I mean I experienced the story.
The story is about Zacchaeus, described as “a chief tax collector and rich.” FYI: Tax collectors were often Jewish people who were sell outs. They collected taxes from their own people, for their people’s oppressor, Rome. If this wasn’t bad enough, they were known to take more than required and keep the extra for themselves. They were obviously hated and despised by the Jewish people.
In the story, Jesus enters Jericho. Zacchaeus, being curious about Jesus and vertically challenged, climbs a tree to be able to see Jesus. Jesus stops at the tree and says to him, “get down. I must go to your house today.” Of course he’s criticized for his kindness to “a sinner.” Jesus apparently sends Zacchaeus an energy of such love and acceptance, that Zacchaeus says something profound. “Half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I’ve defrauded anyone, I will pay back four times as much.”
Jesus then says “today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
There are many things hidden in plain sight in the gospels of the New Testament that the Church has never really picked up on. In this case, what “salvation” or “being saved” meant to Jesus. The Christian Church has taught that salvation is believing the right things about yourself and Jesus. Salvation is about getting into heaven when you die.
Believing the “right” things include:
- Believing your true nature is found in being a sinner, and “repenting” of your sin.
- Believing that Jesus died for your sins, convincing God to then love and accept you.
But in this story, while Zacchaeus is judged a sinner by everyone there, Jesus calls him “a son of Abraham”. In other words, a child of God. Jesus demonstrates God’s unconditional love for him, by rebelling against cultural norms and going to Zacchaeus’ house. Which in that culture is an expression of acceptance. A definite religious and cultural NO NO!
So here, hidden in plain sight, is how Jesus understood salvation. For him, salvation is not about getting into heaven when you die. Salvation is about heaven coming to earth. In other words, salvation occurs when one is realigned with their true nature, which is Love and Oneness with God and all things.
We don’t need to be saved from God. We only need to be saved from our ego, which sees itself as separate and thus gets lost in fear. Salvation is simply a shift from fear to Love.
Zacchaeus’ true nature rises up within him and all he wants to do is love. Period.
In my despair over Uvalde and Buffalo, I began thinking about what I can do in response to the horror and blindness. I wrote my representatives in government regarding gun reform. I attended the March For Our Lives event in Minneapolis. I will forever remember seeing another little person. A boy (about 5) standing with his father, holding up a sign as high as he could. A sign saying “Protect Kids. Not Guns.” His body and energy emanating hope and innocence. He looked so much like my grandson, Soren. That scene says it all.
But it was when I thought of volunteering at an elementary school that I truly experienced my salvation. I found myself wanting to do nothing more that show kindness to the children. When I envisioned that, I could literally feel the salvation and healing of my soul welling up within me. It was clearly telling me, “Yes! There is your salvation. Today salvation has come. I felt hope and in alignment again.
Zacchaeus simply forgot who and what he really was. Jesus reminded Zacchaeus that he was not only unconditionally, irrevocably loved by God, but he (Zacchaeus) was actually that Love himself!
In my despair, I too had gotten lost in my forgetfulness. And now I am remembering. What will help me/us remember is to be intentional about Love.
You are Love! Remember (and live from there), and salvation will always come.
Pastor Tim Tengblad
I welcome your comments, questions, and your story.