We have now been in our new church home for twelve months and are continuing to enjoy the loving fellowship there.
I am also enjoying the challenges that a different church style, system, and approach to the Scriptures present.
Yesterday, the gospel reading was about Zacchaeus and the sermon (called a reflection) and related discussion group raised many ideas from this simple story, some of which hadn't occurred to me or seemed worth reflecting on before.
One thought that really grabbed my attention was the observation that it was only the crowd that called Zacchaeus a sinner, not Jesus.
Why would that be so?
And me being me, let my mind wander on that question for the rest of the day.
Could it possibly be that Jesus knew he would soon deal with everyone's sin on the cross, and no-one would therefore deserve to be called a sinner again?
Maybe .. it did remind me of 2 Cor 5 : 19 which says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and so no longer counting people's sins against them.
And, of course, Jesus started that ball rolling on the cross with, "Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing."
I love reading, researching, and studying the Bible.
Well, maybe not all of it.
I usually jump right over the long lists of genealogies, but one day I became inquisitive and stopped to have a closer look.
In the NT, Matthew and Luke both have genealogies of Jesus.
Although Luke was a Gentile, his family tree listed 76 men, all Jewish.
Matthew, a Jew, took a different route and listed 40 men and 5 women, and by including the women, he picked up some Gentiles on the way.
Tamar, was Gentile daughter-in-law of Judah, who didn't honour a promise he made to her, so she boldly set him up for a pay-back. What a bold, inventive Gentile woman!
Rahab, was a Gentile prostitute from Jericho, who risked her life to save Joshua's spies.
Ruth, was also a Gentile - the saintly, widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi, who became the wife of Boaz and the grandmother of King David.
Bathsheba was possibly not a favourite of Matthew because he just called her Uriah's wife. Uriah was a Hittite, so she was probably a Gentile also. She was immodest and unfaithful to Uriah, but became the the wife of King David (who himself was an adulterer and murderer) and mother of King Solomon (a polygamist)
(Some Christians are surprised to discover that the great Jewish King David had a Gentile grandmother and a wife who was probably a Gentile.)
Mary was saintly, Jewish young lady, yet was seen in her community as immoral and worthy of being stoned. Nevertheless, she accepted her Godly calling, knowing it could well cost her her life.
Matthew's list might give us a clue about who Jesus came to save.
Men and Women, Jews and Gentiles, Saints and Sinners are all there, and we don't have to look too hard to see some reflection of ourselves in the list too !!
Clearly, He came to be the Saviour of us all.
Jesus said he would draw all people to himself.
Paul says, “We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.”
John says, “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.”
And Matthew finishes his gospel with Jesus sending his disciples to all nations, inviting them to become his disciples.
It doesn't matter who we are, Jesus died for our sins.
Your sin, my sin, has been handled; as has our neighbour's and anyone's we meet in the street.
When we come to believe that, we begin to enjoy life in fellowship with God.
So, as believers, who know what God has done for us, who have begun to live and enjoy life in fellowship with him, Paul encourages us to be so thankful and to become ambassadors for God.
My prayer for us all is that we will live in such a way as to become reliable and effective ambassadors for God, the Creator and Saviour of the world, by showing those who don't yet know Him, the true value of new life in Christ.