Bible Reading: Luke 19:1-10
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." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner." But Zacchaeus 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." 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."
A few years ago we realised a dream of seeing the Northern Lights. It took some planning. We booked a cruise around the coast of Norway, bought a lot of thermal clothing, travelled to Bergan to meet the ship and were prepared to stand on deck in the middle of the night in freezing temperatures and a high wind-chill factor. But is was more than worth it!
The story of Zacchaeus is perhaps one of the best-known stories for anyone who has been to Sunday School. Zacchaeus was part of the Jewish community in Jericho but he was an outcast because he worked for the occupying Roman authorities, collecting taxes from his own people and passing them on to the Romans, after taking a cut for himself. He became very rich, but lost friends in the process.
When Jesus arrived in Jericho, Zacchaeus was determined to see him. But Zacchaeus struggled physically. Being ‘vertically challenged’, he had no chance of seeing Jesus over the crowd. Undeterred, he climbed a tree, and when Jesus looked up into the tree and saw him, Jesus invited himself back to Zacchaeus’ place to stay, and helped him sort out his life. Zacchaeus’ tree climbing was more than worth it.
Like Zacchaeus, there may be things in our lives that prevent us from getting a good view of Jesus. It may be that we feel like an outsider: ‘God wouldn’t be interested in me if he knew what I’d done’. Or it may be that we let things get in the way: upbringing, health, busyness.
The story of Zacchaeus tells us that Jesus has got time for each one of us, that he is looking for us and if we look for him we will hear him say to us, ‘I must come and stay with you’.
The story also tells us that when we come to Jesus he gives us the space to sort out our lives, to right the wrongs and to make a fresh start.
Jesus continues to search for the ‘outsiders’ today, and he asks the ‘insiders’ to join him in the search and not to get offended by the love and acceptance that he shows to them.
Is there anything in your life that prevents you from getting a clear view of Jesus? If so, is there anything you can do, a ‘tree that we can climb’ in order to get a better view?
Thank you Jesus that, even in a vast crowd of people, and in spite of my short comings, you notice me and you want to be part of my life.