As we in America file our taxes today, I’m reminded of a story in the bible of Jesus’ encounter with a tax collector.
It’s summed up in a cute little kids’ song that goes something like this
Zaccheus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the savior he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way He looked up in the tree,
And He said, “Zaccheus you come down.
For I’m going to your house today.”
How often have we felt like the wee little man – the unimportant, unwanted, or left out one? We may feel despised for the job we do, the past we have, or the choices we’ve made. We see ourselves as unacceptable in the society. We believe we’re judged by those eyes looking at us everywhere we go, even church sometimes.
If we take time to think about the words of the song or to read this story from scripture, the heart-touching part of this simple story shines through.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zaccheus; 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.
Zaccheus’ innate curiosity led Him to encounter Jesus. You too have been given a personality with certain traits and God will use those to lead you to encounter Jesus.
Zaccheus’ height may have felt like a handicap at times, especially in a crowd like this where he wanted to see what was going on. Father God already had the tree growing there that Zaccheus needed – God had made a way for Zach to come to Jesus even with whatever perceived handicap or weakness he had. And God has already made a way for you as well.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
Ole Zach didn’t have to seek out Jesus, Jesus sought out Zach and ended up right at his tree. And what was Zach’s response? He was glad! He jumped down at once because he was ready to welcome Jesus. Are we glad when Jesus meets us? Do we see Jesus as a desired guest coming to our house or as a hard task-master critiquing our every failure?
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Others talked. And they will. Others will talk about us when we begin hanging out with Jesus. “Doesn’t Jesus know who she used to be?”
But Zaccheus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Zaccheus’ heart was changed forever when he encountered Jesus. Though he had most likely been a greedy, money-focused person (and we know that because of the reputation and requirements for how tax collectors conducted their business during those times), Jesus changed him. Money was no longer his focus. Jesus Gave him a new heart, a heart of generosity and repentance.
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10
Zaccheus experienced salvation that can come only through Jesus. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He sought out and saved ole Zach. And He is seeking you and your loved ones who do not know Him. He seeks to find us and rescue us and pull us out of our old life of walking in darkness to a new life walking in the light of His love.