By Dorette Saunders
As we read the account of Zacchaeus’ conversion (Luke 19:1-10), we are inclined to wonder what was it about this man Jesus that transformed the heart of a greedy tax collector? Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but being a short man, it was impossible for him to see above the crowd, so he ran ahead and climbed a tree along the path.
Can you visualize this very wealthy man shimmying up a tree? Can you imagine him holding his breath and holding on tightly, peeling his eyes to take a look at the One he had heard so much about? Perhaps the people below heckled him and had a good laugh at his expense. After all, tax collectors were not well regarded in that day. They were looked on as traitors since they collected revenue for the occupying forces, Rome (and themselves), oftentimes over and above what was required.
But Zacchaeus was not going to be deterred by his short stature. And, he would not be denied. He had to see Jesus. There was something about seeing the Lord. Something about being in the light of his presence. And suddenly from his perch, Zacchaeus heard Jesus say:
“Zacchaeus, hurry down! I want to stay with you today” (Luke 19:5, CEV).
Imagine that! Despite the crowd, Jesus stopped exactly at the spot where Zacchaeus was. And, he called him by name!
Isn’t that just like Jesus? He knows where we are. And he knows our name. Ah! There was no time for Zach to call his wife to clean up, or to prepare a special meal for an honored guest. That day was the day of salvation.
When Jesus comes to us, he calls us just as we are. Jesus sees and knows all the messy things in our lives. No need to cover up. Everything is laid bare before him…including our heart.
Do you and I desire to see Jesus? To know him? What stands in the way? Note that Jesus tells Zach to “hurry down.” What are we waiting for? It’s time to make a decision.
Never mind what labels people slap on you—liar, thief, adulterer, pervert, sinner—Jesus stands ready to save you. Jesus tells us:
“The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost” (Luke 19:10, CEV).
Perhaps we don’t consider ourselves “lost” as we go about our daily activities. But if we have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we have not yet moved out of “darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Later, Zacchaeus promises to make restitution to those he has cheated, over and above what was required, and to give half his wealth to the poor. By his words and actions, Zacchaeus is like the apostle Paul who says:
”But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7,8, CEV).
Having put his faith in Jesus, Jesus assures Zacchaeus, “Today you and your family have been saved, because you are a true son of Abraham” (Luke 19:10, CEV).
We who are saved are part of God’s family. Yet, there is always room for more. Are you one who would see Jesus? Such a meeting with the Lord will transform your life.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you know our every fault yet love us still. We seek you in this hour of turmoil and confusion. Help us to overcome every hindrance that would stand in the way of our acknowledging you as Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.