Chronicled in Luke
Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see. And as the Savior passed him by, He looked up in the tree, And he said, “Zacchaeus, you come down from there; For I’m going to your house today. For I’m going to your house today.” Zacchaeus came down from that tree, as happy as he could be. He gave his money to the poor and said: “What a better man I’ll be.”
Remember singing that song in Sunday School? It was a cute story of the shorty who climbed the tree and met Jesus. It didn’t mean that much to me back then, but I get it now. The cool thing about Zacchaeus was that he wanted something very badly; he had to see this Jesus everyone was making such a fuss about. He knew he had limitations—his height—but he didn’t let that get into the way of him accomplishing his goal. I like Zacchaeus…maybe not his profession (he was a tax collector) or his ethics (he had gotten rich swindling people), but his perseverance and ingenuity impresses me.
Yes, this man was a sinner. Haven’t we all fallen short (no pun intended) of the glory of God? Yes, this man took advantage of people. Haven’t we all been guilty of that infraction at least once in our lives? Yes, this man was not popular with the crowd, perhaps for good reason. Should that have taken him out of the running for a meeting with Jesus? The crowd that day judged Zacchaeus based on his job, his actions, etc. We’ve all judged people unfairly. We’ve all been judged unfairly. Having been on both sides of the coin, I can say that neither is favorable.
Do you remember when you got saved? At that point, nothing else mattered: not what you had done, said, or thought. Your past didn’t matter. Your present didn’t matter. All that mattered was that you had an encounter with God. Zacchaeus just wanted to see the guy. So, he climbed a tree. He wasn’t trying to get noticed. He simply wanted to see. Just like us. In our state of “lostness,” we were searching for something real. We too just wanted to see. Jesus honored that in us. He honored it in Zacchaeus as well.
The Lord seized an opportunity to change a life that day. People didn’t like it, but it didn’t matter. Jesus saw a soul, not a sinner. Zacchaeus came face-to-face with his Creator and he could not resist the unconditional love he saw displayed to him. Jesus knew who he was, and, yet, still picked him out of the crowd to have a moment with. Not only was Zacchaeus’ life changed, but untold numbers of others had their worlds rocked as a result of his salvation. He vowed to give half of his riches to the poor and make fourfold restitution to everyone he ever cheated.
So, how do we triumph in the midst of trial? Don’t let obstacles get in the way of a moment with God.