Have you ever felt like you needed to see for yourself?
That was me as a kid. Always curious. Always testing. Always asking questions. Always wanting to know why or why not. Never satisfied with a “because I said so” response, but I knew that answer was my cue to take my curiosity somewhere else.
I have not always been grateful to God for the way He designed me because my curiosity without accountability got me into a bunch of trouble. And my incessant need for real answers, often got me a ticket to the quiet game or a timeout in my room.
As a kid, my family lived on a cul de sac. The center of our circle was covered with thick grass, and there in the middle lived a giant ficus tree with branches low enough to provide a step ladder for all the youngsters. We, the kids occupying our street, claimed ownership of our respective branches. The higher seniority, the higher the branch and perch.
This tree was host to some of the best pretend adventures a gaggle of kids could produce on long, hot summer days spent outside. And it provided an amazing vantage point from which to spy out the neighborhood. I could see so much for so far from way up on my branch.
Perhaps that was part of the reason I loved the tree. It was a place to ponder. I do, now, thank God for making my brain, my reasoning capacity, and for giving me such a deep level of curiosity. It was this tenacious pursuit for truth that God used to draw me to Himself. And praise Him, He continues the pursuit of me. And you. And so it was for Zacchaeus.
“So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus camey by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” He said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.””
Luke 19:4-5 NLT
Zacchaeus. He was not the cartoonish, felt board character that we might remember from our childhood. I highly doubt he was the Buddy Hall funny guy of New Testament Jericho.(1) From the description of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, I picture him more like a Michael Corleone mobster.(2)
Zacchaeus was the Chief Tax Collector for the Jericho region, and as such he became very rich. He might have been a short man, but he wielded a whole lot of power over the citizens of his town. And he knew it!
If we ponder the text, and allow Holy Spirit to teach us, we recognize that Zacchaeus was a fascinating character. Jesus must have thought so, for when Jesus spotted Zach in the tree, He told him to come down. He wanted to talk face to face.
Jesus, who called out demons, and commanded Satan away with the word of God, was not intimidated by this wealthy and powerful Chief Tax Collector. In fact, Jesus invited Himself to be a guest at Zach’s house that same afternoon. And for another thing, Jesus told him to come down quickly!
“Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.”
Luke 19:6-7 NLT
I doubt anyone, except maybe his mother, ever spoke to Zacchaeus with such authority. Possibly no one confronted his bully character for fear of the consequences. Probably, Zach had no friend who wanted simply to be a guest in his home. Most people who dared approach him were either Roman overlords, who took their share of his profits, or people who were just like him – climbing the power ladder.
It was no secret, Zach was a notoriously ruthless man. And on that day as Jesus walked with him to his house, everyone in the crowd raised eyebrows, shrugged shoulders, and vocalized their strong disapproval. But isn’t this so often the way?
“Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!””
Luke 19:8 NLT
God knows exactly what He’s doing. He has the highest, most supreme, all knowing vantage point on all of His creation. God know everything, and He knows exactly who, when and how to get an audience with a sinner.
Yet, we doubt. We question. We roll our eyes. Shrug our shoulders, and basically doubt God’s judgment. We do it all the time. Okay, maybe you don’t. But I’m guilty. And it’s because we don’t have God’s vantage point. Because we’re not God.
“Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.””
Luke 19:9-10 NLT
Jesus is good, and He knows what He’s doing. He wishes for not one of His sheep to remain lost!
Eyes on Jesus and Shine,
(1) 2006 movie, Deck The Halls, Buddy Hall, played by Danny DeVito.
(2) 1972 movie, Godfather, Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino.