Forward Today: Seeing Jesus

Note: As we continue to pray for healing for the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, this weekly message will feature guest writers from the Forward Movement staff and board of directors. Today’s message comes from Miriam McKenney, Forward Movement’s Director of Development and Mission Engagement.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd, he could not because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

Driving home from picking up my youngest daughter from college, we noticed several well-fed hawks sitting on farm gate posts across the hundred-plus miles of our trip. “Look at that!” I pointed when I noticed the first one. By the time we saw the third one, Jaiya had observed, “I’ve never seen so many plump ones just sitting there like that. I wonder if it’s something new or I just never noticed them.”

We can learn so much from Jesus’s noticing Zacchaeus. When I heard this scripture read aloud recently, I wondered: Why did Zacchaeus try to see who Jesus was? Did someone tell him about Jesus, or did he overhear something someone said? Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector—what was it about Jesus that made him run, not walk, to climb a tree? Was watching things from trees common in those days? Or was something else going on, like the man being Jesus?

If we knew Jesus was coming our way, I don’t doubt that we would be climbing trees, telephone poles, and more to catch a glimpse. But how do we know? Can we know? Zacchaeus teaches us something about how to respond when we see Jesus. What if we acted like we saw Jesus in everyone?

We all want to see and be seen. We long to see something that matters, like it’s already a part of us, even as it feels fresh and new. I’ll never know precisely why Zacchaeus knew to run and climb that tree. I’m thankful to have had the chance to think about the questions. Thinking about why Jesus drew people to him draws me to Jesus.

Being drawn to Jesus often happens in my work as a person who receives requests for copies of Forward Day by Day. I see Jesus in each request because one more person will know God’s love for the world. We’re blessed to offer all we can as God calls us to give.

My prayer is that you will join our ministry of yes, as we see Jesus in every person who writes to us in need, every person who comments on our Forward Day by Day meditation on our prayer site, and every person who comes into contact with our work. Our goal this year is to send copies of our new gift edition of The Book of Common Prayer to incarcerated individuals across The Episcopal Church.

Thank you for your continued support and generosity. We thank God for you, and we pray for you.

Yours faithfully,

Miriam McKenney
Director of Development and Mission Engagement

More from our ministry:

From Grow Christians: CS Lewis’ Compelling Representation of Christ

Notice God in the world through our social media devotion, AdventWord

Get your copy before Advent begins: Holy Is His Name

Donate today to send beautiful prayer books to incarcerated individuals