Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Thirty, Tuesday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 19: 1-10

Earnest seekers did many unusual things to get close to Jesus. Some pushed their way through crowds to touch the hem of his garment. Others opened the canopy of the roof of a home to drop a paralytic friend into the center of the room so Jesus could heal him.  In the story today we see Zacchaeus the tax collector climbing up a sycamore-fig tree to see Jesus as he was coming his way. Very creative for the short man who knew he could not see Jesus because of the crowd.

When Jesus reached the spot where Zacchaeus was up in the tree, he noticed him and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down and welcomed Jesus with gladness of heart into his home. It must have been the thrill of his lifetime!  But, when all of the towns’ people saw this they began to mutter silly slander, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

Not a gross sinner for very long, however. Zacchaeus was so delighted to be in Jesus’ presence that he was convicted of his sin and openly confessed how he wanted to make things right. He said to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” The tax collector was set free to become a child of God, releasing his well-earned possessions to the poor, and paying back any ill-earned money four times the original amount. What a great picture of repentance – a total turn around for this “sinner.”

No wonder Jesus loved hanging out with sinners! It was the sinners who knew they were in need of a Savior. The sinners were the ones who were broken, sick, hungry, poor of spirit, troubled of mind, greedy of gain, and prideful of heart. Those who were focused on the Law more than grace, pointed fingers of judgment and closed their hearts to the gospel.  To be accused of associating with sinners was a badge of honor for Jesus, for he came to seek and to save what was lost.

Zacchaeus was found and saved by Jesus on that great day of joy.  Jesus declares, “Today salvation has come to this house.”  Zacchaeus believed and was considered righteous in God’s eyes, and was generous with his money, magnanimously offering it to the poor. The Son of Man declares this of Zacchaeus: he once was lost, but now is found.

Can you recall the time when you were seeking Jesus? When you received his outstretched arms of love? Perhaps you remember the joy and zeal you had as a new believer? Reclaim that once more! Behold the beauty of the Lord Jesus with a seekers heart; believe the transformation he desired for you then and now;  belong to the fellowship of those who continue to seek Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; become a curious seeker once again, even if it means climbing a tree to see better.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.