Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)
The Wee Little Giant
Who does not like the story of Zacchaeus? The wonderful song that tells the story rings in the ears of children across the land. It seems amazing that because he was vertically challenged a grown man would climb up a tree to see Jesus. A short man. The Holy Spirit impresses us with the value of the story because he was a small man. Unable to see Jesus he remembers a sycamore tree up the road that would give him an advantage to at least see Jesus.
As a tax collector he would have been a wealthy man with fine clothing. Imagine the surprise from others as he begins climbing a tree. Some must have laughed and others thought Mr. Z had lost his mind. Fellow business partners might have considered reevaluating their arrangement with a crazed man climbing trees. Undaunted Zacchaeus climbed the tree.
The crowd draws closer. In the midst is the man of the hour. Zacchaeus is only able to see Jesus but what a joy it would be to speak to him. As the Lord passes under where Zacchaeus is perched on a limb a remarkable thing happens. The Teacher stops and looks up at this tree climbing tax collector and calls him by name imploring him to come down so they may dine together that day. A smile breaks across his face. Hurriedly he scampers down the tree in a most undignified manner and rushes to the Lord. The two men go into the home nearby and Zacchaeus is a changed man. Jesus took time to spend with him – a tax collector – hated by his fellow Jews and loathed by the Romans. Salvation came to his home.
This is a great story for many reasons. God loves small people. He even loves small rich people. What I like about the Z Man is that he had a desire to see Jesus and took some unusual steps to bring that about. I wish we had more people today seeking Jesus. I doubt Zacchaeus knew how it was all going to turn out. He may have thought like many who are standing on the side of the road watching a parade go by that he would even have a chance to be acknowledged by Jesus. The real joy of this story is that Jesus has time to talk to people in trees. There were usually a lot of people around Jesus but only one humble enough to climb a tree. Jesus loved Zacchaeus for that. Sometimes I need to get on my knees and climb a tree. The Lord loves tree climbers.
The tax collector was willing to do whatever it took to see the Lord. I must be willing to do all God has commanded me to see the Lord. Joy came to the house of Zacchaeus because he did something unusual for a man of his stature; and it was not about his vertical size but the giant heart he had inside. Because Jesus came into his house the tax collector repented and made changes in his life. When Jesus comes into my life I must repent and make changes. That is when joy comes.
Thanks Zacchaeus. You are my hero – you little man you. Is that a great story or what?