There is some intentional double entendre in my post title today. The tense you all are thinking off; the stress-filled tense, the muscle pain tense - that is alive and well as I begin to think about the passage for Sunday; Zacchaeus (the wee little man).
I'm always tense when a lesson we've all known since nursery school comes up because how do you preach it? It has been done to death. What else can I say?
And then there's that bit that the folks over at WorkingPreacher.org add, that this isn't the story we've all come to know. They're interest is in verb tense. In verse 8 both verbs are present tense. "See, I give half of my income to the poor. If I'm found to defraud anyone I pay them back 4 times over."
If there is no conversion. No miraculous change of heart. No opening of Zacchaues' eyes to the ways of the Kingdom, whey then does Jesus say that "TODAY, salvation has come to this house"? And, for that matter, even if there was a dramatic change of lifestyle, aren't we pretty clear on the fact that changed behavior does not salvation bring? Works are the response to grace, not the catalyst.
So I'm feeling tense about tenses and tense about this well known tale of a wee little man whose heart grew three sizes that day (wait, wrong story). =Are you feeling tense too?