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Reaching Out

As Jesus was passing through Jericho, a man named Zacchaeus, one of the most influential Jews in the Roman tax-collecting business a9and, of course, a very rich man), tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowds. So he ran ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree beside the road, to watch from there.

When Jesus came by he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name! "Zacchaeus!" he said, "Quick! Come down! For I am going to be a guest in your home today!"

Zacchaeus hurriedly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.

But the crowds were displeased. "He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner," they grumbled.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, "Sir, from now on I will give half my wealth to the poor, and if I find I have overcharged anyone on his taxes, I will penalize myself by giving him back four times as much!"

Jesus told him, "This shows that salvation has come to this home today. This man was one of the lost sons of Abraham, and I, the Messiah, have come to search for and to save such souls as his." Luke 19: 1-10 (TLB)

Donald Greeley lives in Illinois. A few years ago his family and Donald were at Cambridge University in England around the time of the annual examinations. As they walked, Donald saw a student sitting alone on a bench with his head in his hands. He thought about going over to comfort him, but he hesitated, conflicted. Then he walked on by. Could he have made a difference by quietly supporting him in what appeared to be a moment of crisis? Donald will never know, but he regrets to this day not going over to sit beside him.

There have been times in Donald's life when he longed for someone to reach out to him. A few weeks after the death of his mother, he was in morning worship feeling sad. He yearned for someone to ask him if he was doing okay because at that moment he was not. Donald guesses his game face fooled everyone because no one asked.

Sometimes we hesitate to reach out to someone for fear of offending them. But by not doing so we also miss the chance to offer comfort and support to those who really want and need it. Time and again Jesus reached out to others, offering healing and acceptance. Reaching out to a hurting person is not easy for Donald, but he tries, inspired by Jesus' brave examples. Donald believes that the power of personal connection outweighs any risk.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, encourage us when we hesitate to reach out to those around us who are hurting or alone. We ask in Your name, amen.

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