Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ “
This particular story is one of my personal favorites. Zacchaeus faced with the chance of missing Jesus shows his resourcefulness by running ahead. He positions himself up in a tree that grew by a busy road. Climbing up he placed himself where he could see Jesus.
I can see Jesus stopping under Zacchaeus’ tree, looks up and calls him to come down. “I must stay at your house today”, Jesus declares. Now there is some serious protocol issues here. A guest never invited himself to dinner, that just didn’t happen. Also Jesus, as an esteemed religious teacher/prophet/messiah was supposed to set an example and not to associate with “sinners”. Rules are being broken.
There are many lessons here for the modern disciple. We would do well to meditate on the many issues imbedded in the text. The graciousness of Jesus is profound. He is kind and yet assertive at the same time.
Imagine if this account was all the New Testament we had, what would our mindset be like? I think we’d all have to make some adjustments. To put it simply, Jesus is not normal. He touches peoples hearts in unorthodox ways.
I think what blesses me the most is Zacchaeus’ decision to climb that tree. He is a man who is “vertically challenged.” But basically he overcomes his liabilities when he commits to climb up into the branches. He positions himself to see Jesus, and you can’t say a thing against that. Zacchaeus’ adventure is just now begun.
But isn’t that is what we do as Christians? We put ourselves in a place where we can be close to him. Think about the ‘disciplines’ of the Christian. Disciplines like prayer, fasting, Bible study, tithing, baptism, serving and worship. All of these are like branches on the Sycamore tree. Ascending we put ourselves in place where Jesus is coming. It is a way of seeing Jesus. But, that is surely enough.
When I pray, I do so in order to see Him more clearly.
I can get it all confused and see it as an end in itself. This is a common flaw in our thinking. We forget that all these disciplines do is to help us see Jesus. Nothing more– just to see Jesus, and to be seen by Him.
Zacchaeus did not stay in the tree, you might say the tree accomplished its purpose when Jesus drew close. Zacchaeus did not say, “Jesus, I have this wonderful spot, and it took ‘effort’ to get here. I think I will stay right here.” No, he didn’t just want to climb– he wanted to see Jesus.
“Sir, we want to see Jesus.” John 12:21
- Zacchaeus (awriterfirst.wordpress.com)
- The Jewish Scrooge (omshope61.wordpress.com)
- The Beautiful Toll Collector: Reflection on Zacchaeus (justinprocess6.wordpress.com)
- “Vertically Challenged” in Jericho (myhearttammy.wordpress.com)