Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. (Luke 19:3-4)
The story of Zacchaeus is a familiar one for many people. Much of this is likely due to the popular children’s song that paraphrases the above verses, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he…”
Zacchaeus is intriguing to us not only because of his size. He intrigues us because he climbed the tree. Something from the news that he had heard about Jesus made him want to see what was up with this itinerant preacher. And he was not alone. The crowds around Jesus made it hard to get close to him. Climbing a tree seemed the only option if he was going to see and hear what Jesus had to say
How wrong Zacchaeus was! While climbing the tree allowed him to see Jesus, it also allowed Jesus to see him. What followed was not just Zacchaeus being a part of the crowd. He was changed from audience to host as Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner. During the meal, Zacchaeus repents of his old life and not only starts a new one but makes restitution fourfold for the places where he has cheated people before.
At various times in peoples’ lives they are more alert and open to encountering Jesus. The upcoming weeks are times when more people will be in a place like Zacchaeus was. The Easter season brings awareness and awakens a hunger in people about the work of Jesus. TV specials will highlight Jesus and the History Channel will likely have some programs on the historical Jesus. Church attendance will be up on Easter morning and many people who don’t come to church on Easter Sunday would likely have accepted an invitation from a friend if one had been offered.
You may find yourself hungry for a life-changing encounter with Jesus. You may know others who are hungry for the new life that Jesus brings. Zacchaeus is a reminder to all of us that meeting Jesus can change a life.