Being small in stature definitely has its limitations. Getting items off the top shelf at the grocery store requires ninja-like skills to climb and balance on the lower racks while extending my arm far past its normal reach capacity. Every Sunday, I sit in one of the closer rows during service in hopes nobody too tall sits in front of me. And the ever dreaded “high-top” seating at a restaurant that is sure to find my legs falling asleep because my feet can’t reach the bar to rest them. If you can relate, can I get an “Amen?”
The gospel of Luke describes an encounter Jesus had with a man named Zacchaeus, who, like some of us, was short in stature. As we read in Luke 19, we see just how determined Zacchaeus was to see Jesus as He walked through Jericho.
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” (vs 1-7 ESV)
I love how tenacious Zacchaeus was. He was going to see this Jesus no matter what. But why? What could Jesus offer him that would be better than the riches he already had? What did Zacchaeus need that would drive him to climb a tree? Scripture doesn’t tell us the “why” but we know he was eager to see. Maybe he felt a yearning to know Jesus on a deeper level. Jesus saw him and called him down from the tree branch. Not only did Jesus know his name without introduction, but He told Zacchaeus to prepare a place for Him in his home that very day. Jesus knew what Zacchaeus needed before Zacchaeus ever scaled that sycamore tree. He needed a Savior.
The grumbling began in the crowd. All they could see was a man who had been knee-deep in sin as a tax-collector, but Jesus saw a man who needed redemption, love, and that was where His focus was that day. When others receive blessings while we suffer, it is easy to begin the moaning and complaining. Why would You help them, Lord? Don’t you see how broken and sinful they are? We stand in judgment while Jesus hands out mercy.
I was knee-deep in sin when I met Jesus. How about you? Did people around you wonder why Jesus would forgive you? Redeem you? Eventually die for you? It’s a mystery and a gift all the same. Still, we wonder. Are we worthy to stand in the presence of Jesus? He says, come, my arms are open, fall into them. He makes us worthy because of His sacrifice and righteousness.
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:8-10 ESV)
Zacchaeus amazes me with his surrender and sacrifice. He repents, receives salvation, and is saved. Jesus announces His coming was to seek and save the lost. Could it be that Jesus walked through Jericho that day seeking the encounter with Zacchaeus? While we think it is Zacchaeus who found Christ, in truth Christ found him.
Jesus still seeks and saves those who are lost today. If you haven’t fully surrendered to Christ, maybe today is the day you climb out on that limb.
Holding Fast to Hope,