He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5 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.” 6 So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8 Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
I love this story because it reminds me who I am, who I sometimes am, and who I want to be. (If you need to take a moment and sing the children’s song about Zachheus, the wee little man, do that now, then start reading again.)
Who I Am
If I am honest with myself, I can easily connect to Zacchaeus. I do not defraud people or work for the IRS, but I know my own shortcomings, my own sin, and I want to get a glimpse of Jesus. Zacchaeus’ problem is the crowd that is blocking his view of Jesus. Sometimes other people do things that hinder me from seeing Jesus. Usually though, it is not their action, but my reaction that keeps me from seeing Jesus. Most of the time though, the crowd I deal with is my own busyness. My calendar and to-do list can crowd out quality time with God. Don’t get me wrong, all of life can be holy, but sometimes I get so overloaded and tired, everything becomes a task instead of a way to encounter Jesus. The busyness crowds me, but I still deeply desire to see Jesus.
Who I Sometimes Am
The crowd is so focused on their own desire to see Jesus that they are ignorant or apathetic towards Zaccheus, or they many not like him at all. I am afraid that more often than I am aware of, I turn into one of the crowd. I get so selfish to be with Jesus, to have my time with Jesus, my encounters with God, that I fail to pay attention to others around me. Simply put it’s the “I” in sIn. My own selfishness, even in terms of seeking God, can be a barrier for others being able to see Jesus or be used by him.
Who I Want To Be
There are good times in life when I connect to Jesus in this story. Times I get to be used by God to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Christians are the physical body of Christ here on earth, and I love those times where I get to be the hands and feet of Jesus. But, it’s probably a “little” arrogant to see myself as Jesus in this story. The better perspective is to see myself as a tree. I want to be the sycamore tree that lifts people like Zacchaeus up so they can see Jesus. When we live sharing the love of Christ with the people we meet, we lift them up so they can see Jesus. Jesus is the one who does the healing, redeeming, restoring work, not me. Jesus is the one who transforms hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Maybe we should be trees, lifting up people we meet on our journey, so they can have an encounter with the risen Jesus.