If you’re a student here at Regent, you know that UnChapel is a big deal. From the outside, it may sound like a simple gathering of students, a message and a few songs – but it is much more. It is an event. No matter who’s speaking, UnChapel is always a great time to come together in worship and fellowship.
But sometimes things don’t go as planned with your work or class schedule. Sometimes you go to UnChapel, but you don’t retain as much as you’d like. Or maybe you find yourself wishing there was a place where the week’s UnChapel was recapped so that you can relive it all over again.
That’s where Re:Chapel comes in. Every week, we will give you a complete rundown with notes on the message, verses that were referenced, songs that were sung, and questions to continue the discussion. All in one place. It may not replace actually going, but we’re hoping you enjoy it as a supplement to your UnChapel experience.
So let’s get started! Last week saw the start of a new series at UnChapel, titled, “A Glimpse of Jesus.” The message was delivered by Regent’s very own Reverend Jason Peaks, who discussed some of his goals for this semester’s UnChapel. Whereas last semester explored the life of David, Peaks wanted to focus on the life of Jesus this time around. In his words, “If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have anything.”
Peaks started the message by telling a story about how he found himself reacquainted with Jesus. He was at a retreat in 2010, when he was approached by a former tattoo artist who felt led to draw him a picture. The picture depicted a laughing Jesus and caused a shift in Peaks’s perspective. He realized he had known about Jesus, but not beyond a mere Sunday school level.
This “glimpse of Jesus” stuck with Peaks. He spoke of wanting to get back to that glimpse, and how easy it can be for us to miss these glimpses. They are not always bright and flashy – most of the time, Jesus shows up in smaller moments in our lives. Yet that one tiny glimpse of him can change everything.
The main portion of the message came from Luke 19:1-10. In this passage, Jesus is passing through Jericho when a wealthy tax collector named Zacchaeus makes it his goal to catch a glimpse of him. As we all know, Zacchaeus is a wee little man (and a wee little man is he). And since the crowds are too big for him to see through, he climbs a tree near where Jesus is passing. When Jesus spots him up in the tree, he says, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
This small occurrence changes Zacchaeus’s life permanently. Rather than cheat people of their money and act in his own interest, he vows to give back and help others from then on.
The first point Peaks made was that this “glimpse of Jesus” is for anyone. It’s not just for the devoted or fervent followers of Christ. Zacchaeus was clearly labeled as a sinner by the Jewish community – almost as a traitor of sorts. Even worse, Bible scholars speculate that his height was an actual disability. His shortcomings were both physical and spiritual in nature.
And yet he was still able to obtain this glimpse. Not only that, but he became something of a symbol of Jesus’s mission to bring salvation – that it wasn’t just for the religious or those who had their act together. According to Peaks, literally anyone can get a glimpse of Jesus. No matter what your circumstances may be or what shortcomings you may have, this glimpse is available to you.
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Peaks’s second point was that we all want to see Jesus. No matter what we might say, we all secretly long for a glimpse of who he is. We wonder if we would see things differently if we really knew Jesus. Just look at Zacchaeus. His name literally means “pure,” and yet he was the exact opposite. He was aware that his whole life was a lie, every time someone spoke his name. Yet he had a curiosity to know who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was kind to people like him, who were disabled and entrenched in their sin. And so Zacchaeus did what he could to get a glimpse of him.
Like Zacchaeus, we are compelled to search for something greater in our lives. Peaks explained the Hebrew meaning of the word “to seek.” Someone who seeks is attempting to get to the bottom of something. Yet there is an extra layer in Hebrew whereby seeking is akin to worship. As Peaks said, “Little did he know that in his seeking, he was beginning to worship someone he did not know.”
The word also mean to experience completely. His curiosity brought him to the point where he couldn’t just see Jesus, he had to experience him. He wanted to tangibly understand. In the same way, we find ourselves compelled to do whatever we must to get a glimpse.
The most significant part of the story has little to do with Zacchaeus, however. It’s about Jesus finding us where we are and calling us by name. He desired to meet with Zacchaeus and get to know him.
“This whole story is not just about you figuring out how to get a glimpse of Jesus. This story is about him getting a glimpse of you. In all of your looking, he’s looking first. In all of your searching, he sought you there. His eye was on you before your eye was ever on him. And in that place, he knows not just your face – he knows everything about you.” – Jason Peaks
Your glimpse of Jesus changes everything. In the case of Zacchaeus, it gave the crowd an opportunity to see Jesus work in a sinner’s life. People in this story realize that Jesus is salvation. With a glimpse of Jesus, you get identity and salvation and faith. It changes your perspective and gives you a new vision of him. Peaks concluded his message with two steps to help move towards seeing Jesus:
1) Your posture must change.
In order to be a person who sees Jesus, you must come from a position of humility. This requires a shift in your thinking. You can’t keep on thinking that you know everything there is to know, that you’ve “made it” in your walk with Christ. The moment you think this, you stop growing. There is always more to learn.
Like Zacchaeus, we must “come down from the tree” and humble ourselves. CS Lewis once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” If your focus is on yourself, you won’t be able to see Jesus.
2) Your practice must change.
In this story, Zacchaeus shifts from robber to host, from taker to giver. He welcomes others and treats them as Jesus treats him. In other words, it’s not enough to simply get your eyes off yourself – now you have to act.
Peaks closed by mentioning Matthew Chapter 5, where Jesus uses Zacchaeus’s name to bless the “pure of heart.” If you become like Zacchaeus – if you humble yourself and change your actions – you’re on a direct path to catch that glimpse of Jesus.
So what was something that gave you a unique glimpse of Jesus? When was the last time you caught a glimpse of Jesus? Today? This week? This past year? What are some ways you can humble yourself this semester and host someone? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments!