The Front Row.

frontrowseatsHey friends, my name is Devon and  if you guys knew me really well you would know I’m defined by a few things. One of them perhaps most known is I LOVE movies. I own far too many. Hundreds and hundreds of dvds. It’s probably a problem. I love to read.  Recently all productivity in my life has come to a halt due to my new found fascination with Stephen King novels. It’s October, it only feels appropriate. Gotta get in the creeps. And lastly I go to a ton of concerts. But if we are going to be specific. It’s going to see Dave Matthews Band. Yep. The Bro band who plays like 12 hours on one song. I LOVE those guys. I’ve seen them 18 times live in four different states. I’m on that number one fan status. And yes they have more songs than just Crash Into Me. There’s honestly fewer things that I get as excited about every year than travelling with my friends to see them play.

And let me tell you a thing about concerts. They are all about getting the right spot. You want to get as close as possible. You want to be able to see everything that happens on that stage. I am just super committed when it comes to getting the front row. I want to be so close that the band can see how much fun my friends and I are having. That they can see just how much we love to sing along to these tunes.  I want to see the excitement they put into their music. Like do they all get along on stage? DO they enjoy doing what they do night to night. Do they appreciate their fans? These are things you can tell from the front row.

To do this you have to be the first one in the gate. Your pockets ready to be patted down. Your feet ready to BOOK IT. Because you don’t want anyone in front of you.

Have ya’ll ever had to deal with the awful people in front of you at a concert? Like maybe they bring a sign and they hold it up the whole time and you can’t see the stage. Or there’s someone who is just so much taller than you that you can’t see around them. It sucks. I had seats to a Dave Matthews concert in Virginia and this guy in front of me was a solid foot taller than me. The whole show I was on my tip toes or leaning to the left and right to try and see around this guy. It was awful and I wanted to do was see the band. Heck I traveled 15 hours to see them.

Well this little event reminds me very much of a man in the Bible. We have been sharing stories from this book for the last few weeks. Well tonight I want to share the story of a man named Zacchaeus. And maybe you’ve heard the song to his name but I really want to focus in on the story as it is told in this book. So to set it up we find that Jesus has been growing in popularity. He’s gained quite the crowd. People are traveling from all over to gather and listen to him teach. People have been waiting around just for a chance to see if this guy is who he claims he is. Is this man really the Son of God? Can he really heal the blind? Can he really fix us? Can he really help us?  This crowd that has gathered was huge.

And here we find Zacchaeus.

Luke 19: Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was the chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was. (He wanted to get close. See if what he heard was legit.) It says but he was short  and he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. Zacchaeus found him a great spot where he could see EVERYTHING.

This past April I actually go to go to a free Dave Matthews Band concert in Atlanta. And like Zaccheus I ran ahead of the crowd so I get the perfect spot to see Everything. That night I had more fun than I thought humanly possible. The Band was feeding off the crowd. WE were singing and dancing like never before and the band noticed us. After the show in my opinion the greatest drummer on this planet came up to me and tossed me his USED drumstick. (Show it) It instantly became one of my most prized possessions. During the show the fans were invited to go and hang out at The Varsity with the violinist Boyd Tinsley and I got to meet him. Man he gave me the biggest hug in the world and I got to see that everything I hoped this band was was true. He was such a nice guy. Stayed and legit took the time to talk with me and know me.  I’ll never forget it. It made my roommates and I feel so special and my roommates didn’t even care for the music that much but it was such a cool message to see someone so famous care about fans large or small. It was so great that when I got home I had to tell everyone about it. I made it my profile picture I told everyone how nice he was. It made me love the band even more. It made me want others to love the band even more.

Well something similar happened to Zacchaeus. Jesus comes walking through this crowd he stops in his tracks and he looks up into that tree. And Zacchaeus is like “holllllllllly craaaaaaap.”
Jesus looks straight at Zacchaeus and says “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.

Imagine your favorite musician seeing you down in the crowd and being like  “Hey, come backstage I MUST hang out with you.”

YOU WOULD LOSE YOUR MIND!

And this wasn’t Dave freaking Matthews this was THE SON OF GOD!

Zacchaeus he immediately came down from the tree. I like to think he’s not so concerned with like the right step down he just kind of falling out of the tree cause his feet are moving so quick.

Here’s what I find so interesting about this story. It says that the people around him began to mutter amongst themselves. Speaking about Jesus they said “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

Guys, Zaccheus was a tax collector. And in those days tax collectors were despised by the towns people because they would go around and tax everything. If you’ve ever seen the Disney Robin Hood there’s that scene where the Sheriff of Nottingham visits the poor family and basically takes all the money they needed because of how greedy he was and because he had the power to take their money without repercussions. So people would starve and suffer because the tax collector would take more than needed. That’s exactly what Zacchaeus was doing. And so these towns people were upset. Why did you pick him? “He’s not even a real fan.”

People hated Zacchaeus.

Maybe you feel like that sometimes. Maybe you feel like everyone mutters things about you. Maybe you feel hated. Maybe you are worried about what people really think about you. Maybe you have heard about Jesus and you are worried that maybe he isn’t as great as everyone may say he is. Or that maybe he wouldn’t take someone as messed up as you. That he wouldn’t care about someone who does the stuff you do.

That’s. Not. The story.

Jesus looked up in the tree. And saw the hated tax collector. Saw the man who cheated everyone money that didn’t belong to him. Saw the messed up imperfect human being. Saw the person that nobody liked. And how do we know that Jesus knew these things? Because he called him by name.

“Zaccheaus, come down immediately. I must stay and your house today.”

Jesus wanted a relationship with Zacchaeus. Despite knowing every dirty detail about him. He still cared.

Remember how I said after the concert. After I was given that drumstick after I met the violinist I wanted everyone to know. And not even in a bragging kind of way I just thought MAN it is so cool that they would do that for me. They don’t know me and yet they took the time.

Jesus took the time. He knew Zacchaeus. And this was Zacchaeus’ response.

“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 them back four times the amount.”

Last week Matt talked about how Jesus can change our hearts. How Jesus can take how messed up we are and make us something completely new. This is exactly what happened here to Zaccheus. His heart changed. “I give half of my possesions to the poor and will pay back four times whatever I have cheated anyone.”

Guys, it doesn’t matter who we are. It doesn’t matter what our background is.  What we’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you are worried about if this Jesus guy is legit, it doesn’t matter how close to the stage you think you are. Jesus wants a relationship with you. He says “I must stay with you.” He doesn’t just want the relationship he is EXCITED to have it. We can sit back and say eh, I’ll do that after high school. Maybe then I’ll be ready to do that. Save the relationship for a rainy day. We could continue to hear about how great He is. Or we can get on that front row and see for ourselves. We can be like Zacchaeus and stumble quickly out of that tree because every single one of us has been given the same invitation he was. Jesus says I want a relationship. He wants to stay with you. He doesn’t just  want you to see him on the front row he wants you to be with him backstage.

All of us leaders have taken this invitation and man it has changed our whole lives. Changed our hearts. And trust us many of would say we were worse than Zacchaeus. But even still Jesus Changed our heart gave us relationship.  And maybe this is something you would like to do too. Or maybe you think you would but you are not sure what it all means. Guys, we aren’t trying to hide anything. Come meet us, we’ll buy you food and talk about it. We don’t have everything figured out but we have seen Jesus up close and he is everything he’s hyped up to be.

He is as good as it gets.

He’s the real deal.

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