You Know My Name?
If you’re an adult or hopefully even a teenager, you probably remember someone who made Jesus personal to you. Most of us could probably share the name and a story of a person who took the time, maybe on purpose and maybe by accident, to show you what loving God looks like.
In my brief time at RSM, I’ve been showered in new names, and trying to memorize names while we are all in masks is tough. But man, is it important. We all like it when people know our name. There’s power in that. People want to feel known, and that starts with knowing their names.
There’s a Sunday School favorite that points us to the power of knowing people’s names and spending time with them. It’s a classic about a wee little man, found in Luke 19:1-8.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a `sinner.'”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
In desperation to see Jesus, a man threw dignity out the window and climbed up a tree, a grown little man with a bad reputation and a lot of money. He’s a tax collector, the chief one actually, so he’s like captain cheat-you-out-of-your-money. He’s not a crowd favorite, but he’s clinging to that desperation to see Jesus. He leaves dignity on the ground and shimmies up this tree.
Zacchaeus couldn’t have imagined that Jesus would look up and call him by name. Who, me? Scripture doesn’t point to this explicitly, but I like to imagine Zacchaeus turning around looking for the other Zacchaeus who happened to be in the tree that Jesus must have been talking to. Surely not me, Jesus. I’m not your type of person, Jesus.
We make those excuses, too. We list all the reasons that Jesus must not be talking to us.
Jesus, you can’t be calling my name because I’m not ready.
Jesus, you can’t be calling my name because my family is in shambles.
Jesus, you can’t be calling my name because I keep choosing scrolling on my phone instead of time with you.
Jesus, you can’t be calling my name because I have to get cleaned up first. Call back later.
Jesus, you can’t be calling my name because I’m not good enough for that. Because I’m depressed. Because I’m overwhelmed. Because I’m too busy. Because I’m not that kind of person. Because I’m not enough.
Jesus, you can’t be calling my name because I am Zacchaeus, and I’m the chief tax collector.
Yet, Jesus does. And he doesn’t say, “Zacchaeus, come down from there. Give up this life of sin and follow me.” Though that is the goal. First, Jesus embraces him.
“Zacchaeus, I must go to your house today.”
As we read earlier, Zacchaeus receives salvation through Jesus calling out his name, knowing him and spending time with him. Jesus gives us a model of how to love other people and how to use the power of knowing someone’s name. He took the time to get personal. Jesus was on his way to literally save the entire world, and he stopped for a cheater in a tree. He stopped and said, “Let’s hang out.”
Jesus’s call to Zacchaeus is a call for us, too. Not just a call to come to Jesus but also a command to start doing some calling ourselves. We respond to Jesus knowing our names by getting to know some names ourselves. We love because he first loved us, 1 John 4:19.
We can celebrate that on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus even still made time for other people and made them feel known.
You probably remember who made the gospel personal to you. Who will God lead you to do that for? Disciples make disciples. We are called into this. When we say yes to Jesus, we say yes to pointing others to him, too. We get intimidated by words like “disciple” and “teach,” but what Jesus did for Zacchaeus was know his name and hang out with him. Stop overcomplicating these things, and walk into this calling that God has for you. It’s simple. It’s making Jesus personal for other people, just as someone else probably did for you.
All this to say, I might not know everyone’s name after my first two weeks here, but I’m working on it because Jesus knowing Zacchaeus’s name changed his life forever.
Who took the time to know your name and point you to the fact that Jesus knows it, too?
Whose name will you take the time to know? Will you respond to Jesus calling yours?