As a classroom teacher for sixteen years, I learned to recognize my students’ social, emotional, and academic needs. Teaching to change lives was as much about what happened outside of the lesson plan as the lesson plan itself. As I spent time purposefully recognizing my students’ interests and frustrations, our relationship grew, and learning increased. Most importantly, I had more opportunities to share the gospel and see lives changed for good.
In Luke 19 we read the story of Zacchaeus. As a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus had his financial needs met. He lacked nothing. Or did he? Why did he diligently make his way through the crowd and climb a sycamore tree to see Jesus (v. 4)? An even more intriguing question, with so many people suffering from poverty and physical needs, why did Jesus choose to spend time in Zacchaeus’s home? Jesus saw past the exterior trappings of wealth, recognizing that Zacchaeus had a need only He could meet. Jesus’ purposeful interaction with Zacchaeus focused on meeting his emotional and spiritual needs. While society rejected Zacchaeus, Jesus met him as a friend by sharing a meal with him in his home (v. 7). Jesus set an example of love and acceptance as He said, “I must stay in your house today” (v. 5).
Zacchaeus’s salvation became Jesus’ mission because even a wealthy tax collector needed to experience God’s love. Christ’s public recognition of Zacchaeus and His decision to spend time in his home showed that salvation was offered to all who believe (John 1:12). Every day, we meet people whose needs are not always instantly recognizable. Not everyone climbs a tree to see us. Ask God to give you an open eye and listening ear. May He open the door for conversations that will plant seeds for the gospel.
>> Consider the people you interact with today, whether in person or online. What might their needs be? How might God want to use you to speak truth to them and encourage them this day?