At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)
You have to give him an “A” for effort. Zacchaeus, that is. Here he is, a tax collector, despised by his own people, cut off from the ability to love and be loved. His very job puts him at odds with the people around him.
Why would Jesus single him out for the honor of staying at his home? You know the answer. Zacchaeus needed God’s merciful love and in his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible.
Through the story we see a change in Zacchaeus, from a man who wanted to see what all the fuss was about – just like any other by-stander – to a man who was profoundly touched by the presence of Jesus in a way that drove him to make amends for his life of sin. We see a change in him from manifest greed to spiritual poverty; from unclean to purity.
Zacchaeus took the first step though. He climbed the tree to see this man called Jesus. His interest was sparked by what he heard. He could have stayed home but he went above and beyond. He left his comfort zone. He left te place that he was in and went to a far more uncomfortable place.
What about us? How often do we seek out Christ in our lives? Seek him out persistently?
Too frequently, we forget that faith is not a vicarious experience. While others can help to bring us to Jesus, He calls our name and we must personally respond. Not just once, but every day, every moment. Faith is a door into an ongoing, intimate dynamic relationship with a living, loving God who, in Jesus Christ, has come to seek and save the lost. Jesus reminds us “You did not choose me but I chose you.” (John 15:16)
He calls us most when we are feeling the most vulnerable. The loss of a loved one. A broken marriage. Perhaps marginalized because of our race or our looks. Destitute. Homeless. Feeling cut off from others and unloved. Those, and more, are the especially sensitive times when Jesus sees us in the tree and calls us down to be with Him.
The effect of Jesus on the life of Zacchaeus, his experience of grace and unconditional love melted him and put him into circulation. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine.
That change of heart, that change of life, that movement from “back there” to “out here” surrounded by His love and strength awaits each of us.
Look up and look out. Seek out Jesus in your daily life. He waits for you and me each day with love, acceptance and renewal. He waits to call us to a new place. A new relationship. Don’t turn away from that. Don’t turn away from the face of Jesus Christ.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, come and stay with me. Fill my heart with your presence. Help me to see my life as one that is intimately connected with you. Let all that I do and say demonstrate that belief.”
Zacchaeus needed God’s merciful love and in his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible. He shows the depth of his repentance by deciding to give half of his goods to the poor and to use the other half for making restitution for fraud. Zacchaeus’ testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine. The Lord is always ready to make his home with us. Do you make room for him in your heart and in your home?