Song: Joy to the World
Most of us have ridden a moving sidewalk at an airport. They are designed to move you through the airport quicker.
Some people use them that way. They will continue to walk on the moving sidewalk and save time.
But other people prefer to stop walking on the moving sidewalk. They prefer to relax a moment and allow the moving sidewalk to do all work for them.
Some of these people get in the way of those people that are in a hurry. They are like people going 55 the fast lane on I-85.
If they are blocking the entire sidewalk and you are coming up on them very fast, it’s awkward. You can’t flash your lights at them to let them know you are coming. It feels awkward to say, “Excuse me, move over, I’m in the fast lane.”
For a lot of us, the fast lane is where we live. During December, it’s felt like we stepped on a moving sidewalk.
There are a few people who decided to let it move for them. They seemed relaxed and chilled while the rest of the world continues at a frantic pace.
Most people have not slowed down enough to enjoy the season because they have been too busy trying to keep up with it all along with the other jobs we have to do.
Does this hold true for you? The busier you become, the less room you have for Jesus.
There was no room for Jesus in the inn during the first Christmas, and we’ve been struggling to find room for him ever since.
One of the most popular Christmas hymns that we sing during Advent is “Joy to the World.”
The hymn joyfully announces the coming of Christ the King.
Joy to the World/
the Lord has come!/
Let earth receive her King.
Then we sing,
Let every heart/
prepare Him room.
The creator of this hymn was an Englishman Isaac Watts.
In his hymn, Watts connects joy with making room for Christ the King.
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.”
So Jesus himself used the metaphor that our lives are like a house and we need to invite Him inside for fellowship.
In a more literal sense, this is what happened when Zacchaeus met Jesus.
Jesus was passing through Jericho. Zacchaeus, a tax collector lived.
Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming and he wanted to get a glimpse of him, so he climbed up a sycamore-fig tree because he was a short man.
The scripture says that “When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”
- When Zacchaeus made room for Jesus in his house, he discovered joy. It says that Zacchaeus received him gladly.
How long do you think it had been since Zacchaeus had someone come to his house that didn’t want some of his money or wasn’t angry that he had taken some of their money?
How long do you think it had been since someone had come at all?
People hated Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was starved for friendship.
Jesus saw him as someone who needed to be loved and was worth loving. Going to his house made the difference.
I don’t know what things are like at your house. Are they stressful? Are you yelling at each other? Are you kind to one another? Do you argue about finances? Children, teenagers, are you obedient to your parents? Parents, do you spend quality time with your children? Spouses, do you love each other? If you live alone, are you happy with yourself and with the surroundings in which you live?
Please remember, we come to church to worship as a community, but you don’t live here. If you don’t make room for Jesus in your house, it’s impossible for your home to be joyful.
- When Zacchaeus changed his vantage point, it helped him make room for Jesus.
Zacchaeus was a miserable person. He must have heard about Jesus’ miracles but more than that, he must have heard the good news about Jesus, the joy and peace that Jesus preached.
Zacchaeus wanted to know that joy. He wanted to know that peace. How could he get some glimpse of Jesus from Nazareth?
Being a short man, Zacchaeus climbed a tree. He got a different perspective. He changed his vantage point.
If we are going to make room for Jesus, we need to see life from Jesus’ perspective.
When we do, we will become less focused on self and more focused on others.
After Zacchaeus spent time with Jesus, he began to see people differently. No longer were people a means to enrich himself.
Zacchaeus said that that he was going to give half of his possessions to the poor.
He said he would pay back four times the amount to anyone he had cheated.
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Zacchaeus changed his vantage point, and he went from taking advantage of people to see the benefit of giving to them instead of stealing from them.
This Christmas and in the months to come, the way we can make room for Jesus is by thinking about other people.
Place yourself in their shoes. Do they need a visit? Who are the lonely people out there this Christmas? Who are the ones missing a loved one this year? Who is struggling financially? Who needs a friend? Who do you need to repair a relationship with?
I commend you for being here tonight. It’s one time that you have set aside to step off the moving sidewalk, to be still and listen to God.
Even while the children are squirming and restless, as you take communion tonight, picture Jesus coming to your house. What do you need to do this Christmas in the coming year to make more room for him?
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