But, whatever cloak we wear, it’s just the outside of us. In some sense it covers up who we really are. If we want to be authentic with Jesus, we’re going to have to shed our cloaks. If we want to be in the Jesus parade, we have to give up whatever it is that labels us in order to follow the one who loves us. Think of all the cloaks we wear that keep folks from seeing who we really are, keep us from being who we really are. Today, I want us to imagine laying down those cloaks in order to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem.
All this man needs is to hear his name, "Zacchaeus," and the charge: "hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today!" That's all it takes. Zacchaeus comes down. Zacchaeus stands up. Zacchaeus hands over half of his wealth. Now, can you imagine anyone being so desperate for acknowledgment, so thirsty for acceptance, so hungry for love, that they will give anything, they will give everything to hear Jesus call their name? You don't know anyone that desperate? Look in the mirror. Who do you see there? I thought so.
I wrote this hymn poem when I couldn't find any hymns in our hymnal that went with the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. I sang this song to introduce our lay witness in worship, Peggy Schlosser.
I could have written that sermon for you this morning, but I didn't. I The Spirit must have wanted me to write a poem instead, because that's what got written. It's a poem about how I once ran away and how God found me anyway. Now seminary may seem like a strange place to run from God, but at the time it felt as if the Spirit were driving me into a wilderness called seminary. In those years I was preparing for ministry, I'd never been so hungry. My faith had never been so tested. Let me tell you about that time. I hope you'll pardon the rhyme.
We have all we need. We're ready, and the Word for today is the story of Jesus tempted by the devil in the wilderness. But it doesn't start out with the devil. Notice that it starts out with the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit that leads Jesus into the wilderness. In the Gospel of Mark, the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness. So here's the first lesson: if you find yourself in a spiritual wasteland, don't think that God has nothing to do with your being there. The question to ask is this: "What does God want me to learn while I'm here?"