Invited to Weakness – Br. Lucas Hall

Br. Lucas Hall

Luke 19:1-10

Our world paints weakness in a very bad light. It’s seen as something to be exploited, or mocked, or—at best—pitied. But today’s Gospel reading flips that script. I think this passage is a very clear example of the necessity of weakness with Christ.

Zacchaeus was the chief tax-collector in Jericho. He was a Jew who had decided to collaborate with the Roman Empire for his own wealth and power. Many of his fellow Jews saw him as a traitor. Not only that, but tax collectors were widely—and often, correctly—seen as corrupt, willing to abuse their power for personal gain. The average person on the street in Jericho would have been very likely to view Zacchaeus as a treacherous thief.

So, here we have Zacchaeus, up in the tree, looking over the crowds, when Jesus tells him to come down. Jesus even call him by name, so that everyone can hear who he is. Can you imagine being in that situation? “Zacchaeus, come down into this bustling crowd of people. They all know who you are, and they hate you for it.” This is a very vulnerable position, and maybe even a dangerous one. Jesus is calling Zacchaeus into a place of weakness.

But the way Jesus does this is important. He doesn’t bark orders. He doesn’t issue decrees. Jesus says, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! For I must stay at your house today.” Jesus is a traveler, a stranger. He doesn’t have money, or power, or connections. He needs hospitality; he needs a place to rest his head. Jesus doesn’t call Zacchaeus into a place of weakness so that he can flex his own muscles and boast in his own power. Jesus offers a hopeful invitation: “I’ve chosen a life of weakness; come and be weak with me.” Zacchaeus accepts.

But once he’s climbed down from the tree, once he’s actually on the ground, he comes to know just how scary weakness can be. He hears the crowd grumbling around him and calling him a sinner. So what does he do? He responds by choosing weakness. Remember, the crowd has legitimate reason to be upset; Zacchaeus was a traitor and a thief, at least in their eyes. So, he repents, and makes amends. He announces that he’s giving half his possessions to the poor, and that with the other half he’ll repay anyone he’s swindles four times what he owes them. And now, only now, in response to the beautiful weakness of repentance, does Jesus finally say, “salvation has come to this house.”

This pattern of inviting us to lower our own defenses, allowing us to see Christ’s own human weakness, and rejoicing in the vulnerability of our repentance is a common way that God relates to us. We’re taught that adopting certain ideas or identities will empower us. We’re told that following certain leaders will make us great. It’s in this world that Jesus turns the tables. He calls us, over and over and over again, to join him and respond to him in weakness. He assures us we have nothing to fear when we’re weak, because God’s power is made perfect in weakness,1 because Jesus is right beside us, sharing in our weakness.

I encourage you, don’t be afraid to be weak, because that’s precisely the place where you’ll meet God.

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  1. Rev. David Ellis on February 1, 2022 at 21:21

    Thank you for your insightful meditation.

  2. Dawn B. on February 1, 2022 at 13:46

    Thank you Luke for highlighting this profound truth. Doing good things is easy but accepting my own weakness and the weaknesses of others is action that requires God’s assistance every day.

  3. John McDargh on February 1, 2022 at 11:28

    Beautiful and powerful meditation Lucas Thank you so much..

  4. Claudia I Booth on February 1, 2022 at 08:58

    Beautifully written. This is an encouraging message. Thank you, Bro. Luke.

  5. Rhode on November 16, 2018 at 10:31

    Years ago I experienced betrayal accompanied by false accusations and arguments. I felt abandoned, Hurt.Shocked. Days spent weeping I could barely mumble please help, please help. One such morning a clear!!! voice spoke in my head.. as if on the phone … “My grace is sufficient”. 4 words. In my weakness I was ready to hear what God was standing by to offer. The facts could not change but eventually love brought forgiveness and strength of mind giving me courage to face the choices before me,which with God’s love, gave way to peace and altered purposes. God is so good.
    “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness….”
    2 Cor.2 :19- thank you for reminding me.

  6. Jane on November 16, 2018 at 02:50

    Luke, thank you. I love this story and have used it so many times in lessons and lunch clubs with young children, but today, your words and thoughts have opened my eyes to see new things. I had never considered the danger of being named, of coming down into the crowd… nor Jesus meeting him in weakness. I find it amazing the way there is always more to be found. Thank you for offering me new insight. Asking God’s rich blessings on you.

  7. Marybeth Miles on September 4, 2017 at 17:02

    What a great sermon, Luke. He meets me everytime I am weak…everytime.

  8. Mom on July 24, 2017 at 13:37

    You’ve always been an awesome writer!
    I’m so glad that you’ve followed your heart and are now writing for God. I’m super proud of you, and I love you bunches!

    • Jan on July 23, 2021 at 06:52

      This made my day, Mom! I’m glad he’s writing here, too!!!!

  9. Julie Huff on July 23, 2017 at 22:17

    What a great sermon! I know Jesus always meets me in my weakness and I’m so thankful he does!

  10. Glenn & Carolyn M. LaVere Wolfe on July 23, 2017 at 21:15

    Thought provoking !!!

  11. Mary on July 23, 2017 at 21:09

    I have always loved this story and it’s teaching. You did a great job bringing God’s word reminding us that in our weakest moments God is still there to do His great work in us – we are not alone!

  12. Uncle Marty on July 23, 2017 at 19:36

    Well written Luke! We are very proud of you!

  13. Aunt Lynn on July 23, 2017 at 19:28

    Thank you Jesus for your light in our darkness. Thank you Jesus for your mercy and grace. Thank you Jesus for being the strength to our weakness. Thank you Jesus for guiding us and directing or pathway, for giving us an opportunity to know you, seek you, amd love you!

  14. Lorrie Harder on July 23, 2017 at 14:45

    Your dad told me you had given a sermon, and I just found it here. I love this, Luke! There is much wisdom in what you have said.

  15. Roderic Brawn on July 17, 2017 at 10:34

    I have a friend, an elderly archdeacon, known as Mickey by all who know and love him. Mickey as a young man was beginning a career in business when he heard a call, and, after appropriate soul searching, went to the seminary at Huron College in London, Ontario, Canada. He became a priest and was in a parish in London, Ontario, when the Bishop of Huron, because of his background in business asked Mickey to come to work in the financial area of the Diocese of Huron Office. Hence, Archdeacon Mickey. Mickey was an honorary associate at our home church. When one of our priests had to move unexpectedly he filled in as our rector till a new rector could be found. Possessing a genuine sense of humour and the sacred.
    Mickey tells people that when I have a very difficult problem I say in prayer Lord you will have to help me with this.

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