A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. (The whole story Luke 19- 1-10)
Zaccheaeus was known – defined – by his career.
Zacchaeus was “that” guy. He was the hated, money-loving cheat with a short man’s complex. The conman. Chief of the heartless IRS men. The guy people steered away from as they mumbled curses under their breath. So, it’s probably fair to say Zach didn’t have any real friends, and the friends he may have had were most likely deceptive cheats as well … it was the nature of their job, circa year 30.
But lately there were rumors buzzing around the watercooler that a man they called Teacher was causing a stir: he was befriending tax collectors! He healed and he talked with audacious authority and some were calling him The Promised One. There were stories of demons sent running… and others, of co-workers whose lives were changed. And Zach couldn’t shake the hope-filled rumblings: “… he even eats with tax collectors! Can you believe it? Someone who doesn’t want to spit on us?!”
Everywhere he heard the buzz. Zach heard it too from those “religious zealots” whose money he stole as they spat it out in conversations just loud enough for him to hear: “Jesus of Nazareth. A carpenter’s son. Blasphemous. He’s a religious fraud… ‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Give to God what belongs to God’… Pffft… What does he know … and who does he think he is?… He eats with sinners and tax collectors, for God’s sake!”
Oh, Zacchaeus must have marveled. It must have pulled strong at his heart… “He eats with tax collectors!”…Who is this guy? Can it really be true? Is it possible this Teacher might he see me beyond all my misbegotten choices? Is there a chance he might want to eat with me too?
Zacchaeus wanted to see for himself. No, it was more than that… he had to see. But, really, all he wanted was just a peek. Wanted it so desperately he planned ahead. He outwitted the crowds. He anticipated Jesus’ next move. He used his brain to access the available resources in order to compensate for his shortcomings. (In other words, he climbed a tree.)
In every way, Zach was ready and willing. And he ran hard and fast.
was reaching for his only Hope.
I wonder how long Zacchaeus had been discontent? Had he longed for a different career, a different life? Did he feel stuck – branded forever by his life’s choices?
Who was the man that shed his pride, shimmied up the tree and became a boy again? But more importantly: how awesome this Hope that looked up, called out his name, and changed him from the inside out.
I’ve been feeling like Zach lately: defined – boxed in – by a career that threatens to wrap my identity into labels and rules and numbers. And for too long now, I’ve felt like I’m been coming up short.
I need to run ahead, climb the tree, hope the impossible… I desperately need to see Jesus. I need to see His eyes, hear His voice. I need the Hope of knowing He’ll look up and see me and just want to hang out. Maybe we’ll go grab a burger and fries, and He will remind me who I am again.
I am chosen.
I am beloved.
I am His.
Jesus, you are my hope. You are always my only hope. You are worth running towards. Please keep changing me from the inside out.
Watering today: Prov 10; ps 10; Ezra 4; Luke 19