Luke – Wide Open Doors
Zacchaeus was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see
And when the Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree
And said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I’m going to your house today!
For I’m going to your house today!’
Zacchaeus was a wee little man
But a happy man was he
For he had seen the Lord that day
And a happy man was he;
And a very happy man was he
I grew up on this song. We sang about Zacchaeus and Jesus as we rocked our babies and grand-babies. We sang the song with high energy motions with little kids in Sunday School. Yes, those of us who are “lifers” who grew up in church, know the song of the wee, little man.
There is so much more going on in this passage than a wee hearted man of small stature driven to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was a despised tax collector who had permission from the government to collect more than was required so he could make a living that suited him by skimming off the top. Being “chief” tax collector he had the ability to earn/take even more. So, you can imagine why he was hated by the common people. Zacchaeus was a Jewish man, hated by his own, and deemed a traitor of sorts for working for the Roman government…a sinner in the eyes of the religious elite. But, “the Lord he wanted to see”.
By now, Jesus had gained great popularity throughout the region because of what He could do, not necessarily of who He was. Crowds gathered when he came through their towns on His mission to Jerusalem. They wanted to see what Jesus would do next. Zacchaeus was one of them.
Imagine the CEO of a large company climbing a tree, hanging out on a limb, so to speak, to see anyone. I am smiling at the thought. What made Zacchaeus run ahead in his robes of importance, climb a tree like a kid throwing caution and pride to the wind, just so he could get a glimpse of the man everyone had been talking about?
Luke 19, New Living Translation
Jesus and Zacchaeus
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
5 When Jesus came 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.”
6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.
8 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!”
9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
THINK ABOUT IT…
Though Zaccheus was a renegade in the eyes of the Jews, he was a precious lost sinner in the eyes of Jesus. It is interesting to see the changes Zaccheus experienced that day, all because Jesus visited Jericho.
In the East, it is unusual for a man to run, especially a wealthy government official, yet Zaccheus ran down the street like a little boy following a parade. And he even climbed a tree! Curiosity is certainly characteristic of most children, and Zaccheus was motivated by curiosity that day.
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
John Calvin wrote, “Curiosity and simplicity are a sort of preparation for faith.” This is often the case, and it was certainly true of Zaccheus. Why the big crowd? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth they are following? What am I missing?
WHO was seeking?
Zaccheus thought he was seeking Jesus (Luke 19:3), but Jesus was seeking him (Luke 19:10)! By nature, the lost sinner does not seek the Savior (Rom. 3:11). When our first parents sinned, they hid from God, but God came and sought them (Gen. 3:1–10). When Jesus was ministering on earth, He sought out the lost; and today the Holy Spirit, through the church, is searching for lost sinners.
We do not know how God had worked in the heart of Zaccheus to prepare him for this meeting with Jesus. Was Levi, the former publican (Luke 5:27–39), one of his friends? Had he told Zaccheus about Jesus? Was he praying for Zaccheus? Had Zaccheus become weary of wealth and started yearning for something better? We cannot answer these questions, but we can rejoice that a seeking Savior will always find a sinner who is looking for a new beginning.
It was not Zaccheus’s fault that he was “little of stature” and could not see over the crowd. He did what he could to overcome his handicap by putting aside his dignity and climbing a tree. In a spiritual sense, all of us are “little of stature,” for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). No one measures up to God’s high standards; we are all “too little” to enter into heaven.
Zaccheus trusted Jesus Christ and became a true “son of Abraham,” meaning, of course, a child of faith (Rom. 4:12; Gal. 3:7). That is as big as you can get! Small of stature but now possessing a changed heart with giant faith.
Is Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, seeking you?
Do you see His Holy Spirit moving through your family and friends?
What will you do? “Come down” out of that tree and welcome Him into your life?
“For I’m coming to your house today, I’m coming to your house to stay.”
Zaccheus was not saved because he promised to do good works. He was saved because he responded by faith to Christ’s gracious word to him. Having trusted the Savior, he then gave evidence of his faith by promising to make restitution to those he had wronged. Saving faith is more than pious words and devout feelings. It creates a living union with Christ that results in a changed life (James 2:14–26).
When a day begins, you never know how it will end. For Zaccheus, that day ended in joyful fellowship with the Son of God, for he was now a changed man with a new life. Jesus is still seeking the lost and yearning to save them. Has He found you?
Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
You found me! I’m yours, imperfections and all. Thank you for continually transforming me to be all you created me to be. There will always be critics, you had them, but my eyes are fixed on You. Continue to teach me, mold and shape me. Guide my every thought, word and action. Keep me close to You. Thank you, Holy Spirit for correction, challenge, encouragement and direction. Thank you for being with us always as you promised.
In Jesus Name, Amen