A quick apology before you begin…sometimes I just have days like this!
Zac was stumped; he couldn’t cedar wood for the trees.
Or rather, he couldn’t see Jesus for the crowds of people lining the street. He was desperate to at least see Jesus. He was sycamore things than he could imagine, and somehow he knew that Jesus held out some hope.
He noticed the people around him starting to nudge each other, giving him sideways glances and whispering behind hands.
He could guess what they were saying…lots of harsh stuff! What it all boiled down to was… Zacchaeus – a life spent barking up the wrong tree and branching out into some pretty bad stuff. What a sap!
A ripple of fresh noise from the crowd told him that Jesus must be getting nearer.
It was at that moment that he decided to take a risk and just go out on a limb…literally.
An old sycamore-fig tree overhung the road. It would be the perfect place to be able to see without being seen. So risking his dignity and the mockery of the crowds he lumbered through the mass of people and shinned up the trunk and out onto a leafy branch.
Just in time! He could see Jesus and his disciples coming.
And then…Jesus looked him straight in the eye. It was almost as if he had expected to look up and see him there. Then, horror, Jesus came over towards the tree and called his name. More horror…if Jesus knew his name he’s probably heard the gossip, and much of the gossip was true.
Then, he heard Jesus say, “Come down Zacchaeus! I need to stay with yew today.”
Slowly, Zacchaeus twigged that there was no sign of condemnation in the request. Jesus actually wanted to spent time with him.
He almost fell out of the tree with joy and excitement.
Instantly, rent-a-crowd went to work. “Ah, look at Jesus…doesn’t he know Zac is bad through and through…how could he eat with a sinner!”
Jesus didn’t care. He would always make relationships a priority over his reputation. He saw what no-one else had seen. He saw through the wealth and status to a lonely, lost man who wanted to change.
Jesus first priority was always “to seek and to save the lost”. When he saw one like Zacchaeus, who wanted to be found and forgiven, he headed in his direction like a guided missile homing in on its target.
And, in the way that only those who know just how much they have been forgiven can, he became the giver of excessive and lavish grace himself…his payback far exceeded the harshest requirement of the Law.
I wonder what happened after Jesus left town. Did the experience of meeting Jesus change Zac permanently? I only hope that the people of Jericho also marvelled at his change of heart and life, and showed him grace too.
It is a pun-demental truth that Zacchaeus must have experienced great re-leaf when he received grace and love he wooden have been expecting.
** Extra apologies to any readers who’s culture does not include some of the sayings included in this post…please Google it! **