Zacchaeus . . . was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. Luke 19:3 (CEB)
I know what it’s like to have trouble seeing over the crowd. Even though I’m not exceptionally short – average 5’5″ – there are a lot of people taller than me. So I can understand Zacchaeus’ frustration in wanting to see this famous rabbi who was passing through Jericho.
Some might say that Zach didn’t have the right to be around Jesus since he was a tax collector and had cheated so many people. It’s doubtful that he even had friends, especially not Jewish friends. Tax Collectors were considered some of the worst sinners because they collected the taxes for the Roman government and over charged the citizens so they could keep the rest.
Rome didn’t care how much they charged as long as the government got their share. So, even in his “outcast” and “shunned” state, Zach still wanted to see this man named Jesus about whom everyone was talking. He climbed a tree.
When my younger brother was around nine or ten years old, he was always climbing trees, and we finally asked him why he kept climbing them. His answer was that he could see so much more – it was a “cool view.” Zach climbed so he could see more – actually so he could SEE Jesus. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to have a glimpse of a famous person!
Yet, Zach got more than he bargained for because Jesus stopped right below the tree and called Zach down. His day had started out so normal, ordinary, and common but his life totally changed when Jesus encountered him. Jesus even knew his name – we don’t know why he knew it, but he did. Think about what that meant to someone who had been scorned and even hated!
Zach changed his way of living by returning four times what he had taken to those he defrauded and gave half his possessions to the poor. The indication from the Greek is that it was not a one time thing, but an on-going commitment. Zach went from being a nobody who was trying to be noticed to a somebody who really didn’t care anymore if he was noticed. Meeting Jesus changed him and his life.
When was the last time you recognized Jesus speaking to you?
How have you changed since welcoming Jesus into your life?
In what ways have your priorities changed?
How will you carry on that change?