If you went to Sunday school, you are likely familiar with the story of Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector for the Roman government. Tax collectors were known for their corruption. They inflated taxes and pocketed the extra. Zacchaeus had become wealthy. He was despised and considered a traitor by his own people, the Jews. He had heard about Jesus and wanted to know more. When he found out that Jesus was going to be passing through, he decided to get a look for himself. However, there was a big crowd and Zacchaeus was short and could not see over the crowd. He ran ahead on the route where Jesus would travel and climbed up in a tree so he could see Jesus pass by. Jesus spotted Zacchaeus, called him by name, and told him to come down. Then Jesus invited himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ house. Those who heard were shocked and complained that Jesus was going to the home of a sinner. They didn’t understand, that’s why Jesus came—to seek and save the lost.
Scriptures – Luke 19:1-10
Verses – Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.” (Lk 19:1-5)
Thought – Zacchaeus’ desire to see Jesus led him to run ahead of the crowd and climb a tree. This doesn’t seem very significant, but in that day no self-respecting Jewish man would every run or climb a tree. Running was undignified and only the poorest workers would climb a tree to harvest fruit. Zacchaeus broke the rules of decorum and humiliated himself, he behaved in an undignified way in order to see Jesus. We find many Bible accounts of people who were desperate for help and resorted to extreme measures to get close to Jesus. There was a woman who had suffered for 12 years with an issue of blood. She had expended all her resources in her quest for a cure. No doctor had been able to help her. Through a crowd she pushed until she was close enough to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe because she believed that would be enough to heal her. She was considered unclean because of her condition and a Rabbi was not to be touched, but she took a great risk, and she was healed. There’s also the account of four men who carried their paraplegic friend on a mat to see Jesus. However, the crowd was so large that they couldn’t get into the house where Jesus was teaching. They climbed up on the roof and dug through to make an opening large enough to lower their friend into the house believing that Jesus could heal him. The man walked home…sins forgiven! If you are hurting, struggling with something, need guidance, healing, hope and can’t see Jesus, maybe there’s some obstacle in your way. You must climb over that fear, run through that obstacle, dig through the barrier, stretch and reach past your insecurity, do whatever it takes to pursue Jesus. In just the distance from the tree to the ground, everything changed for Zacchaeus. If he hadn’t ran and climbed that tree, nothing would have changed. What others think doesn’t matter; getting to the Savior is all that matters.
Questions – What caused you to respond to Jesus when you became a Christian? How can life’s challenges and relationships present obstacles between where we are and where we need to be in relationship to Jesus? How have you come down from your throne of pride to draw close to Jesus? How influential is the opinion of others in how you live out your faith?
Response – Look at the obstacles in your life that are keeping you from having a close relationship with Jesus. Take steps to remove those obstacles, whatever it takes.
Prayer – Gracious Father, thank you for coming to save me. Thank you for receiving me as I am and for loving me anyway. Don’t let me lose sight of the cross and of your great sacrifice. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.