TRYING TO SEE JESUS
One of the most delightful choruses we sang in Sunday School was about Zacchaeus. It went like this:
Now Zacchaeus was a very small man
And a very small man was he,
He climbed upon a sycamore tree
For he wanted the Lord to see;
And when the Saviour passed that way
He looked up at the tree,
He said, "Zacchaeus, do come down
For I'm coming to your house for tea!"
The Bible version of the incident is slightly different; but Zacchaeus was as lovable to us as one of the seven dwarfs in the story of Snow White.
A Small Man
Jesus was passing through Jericho. He was in search of a particular man, the Chief tax collector of Jericho. Zacchaeus was an important member of this city. As the crowds collected along the road, he wanted to identify Jesus. He had heard of His teaching, parables and miracles. Perhaps he had also heard of the parable of the rich fool, and of Lazarus and the rich man. However, he could not see Jesus because of his short stature (Lk. 19:3).
The Sycamore Tree
Zacchaeus' wealth did not hinder him from climbing a sycamore tree to see the Lord. Tax collectors had a certain status in Roman-occupied Israel. Grown men, especially rich ones, do not normally climb up trees in public. His intense desire to see Jesus overcame his shortness and his dignity. "Who is this teacher, who willingly pays his taxes?," may have echoed in his heart. Jesus looked up at the tree and saw the eagerness in Zacchaeus' heart. He told him to hurry down, for He must stay in his house that day. It was a joyful meeting for the tax collector. Christ's presence transformed him. He offered to give half his property. Most Christians are satisfied with giving tithes and offerings. Here was a man with a large heart. He was willing to pay four times the amount to anyone he had cheated. Some of us would be willing to pay back the amount with interest, but re-paying four times was generosity. All of us have sycamore trees in our lives. We have climbed them up in our pursuit of success. What is your tree? Is it status, education, rank, wealth or family? Are you willing to climb down to see Jesus?
Son Of Abraham
The people who witnessed the scene muttered against the Lord for defiling Himself in the company of a sinful tax collector. They were indignant that Jesus would lodge in the house of Zacchaeus. They believed they were morally and spiritually superior to the small man. Not heeding their murmurs, Jesus told Zacchaeus that salvation had come to his household. He too was a son of Abraham and entitled to all the blessings of that position. Jesus added that "the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10).
Muttering And Complaining
Are we like the bystanders complaining that the Lord has not visited us, not given us spiritual gifts? Or, are we like Zacchaeus eager for a face-to-face encounter with Jesus? Do we want all the members of our family to experience salvation and abundant life? Then we must come down from our ivory towers and meet the Lord. We will surely experience salvation, transformation and restoration.