Luke 19:1-10 (CEV)
19 Jesus was going through Jericho, 2 where a man named Zacchaeus lived. He was in charge of collecting taxes and was very rich. 3-4 Jesus was heading his way, and Zacchaeus wanted to see what he was like. But Zacchaeus was a short man and could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree.
5 When Jesus got there, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down! I want to stay with you today.” 6 Zacchaeus hurried down and gladly welcomed Jesus.
7 Everyone who saw this started grumbling, “This man Zacchaeus is a sinner! And Jesus is going home to eat with him.”
8 Later that day Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “I will give half of my property to the poor. And I will now pay back four times as much to everyone I have ever cheated.”
9 Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Today you and your family have been saved, because you are a true son of Abraham. 10 The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.”
So much money, so much prestige, so much power, yet…
A lonely life, an empty life. To be the lowest of the low, despised, rejected, with no one wanting to be your friend.
No one to let me through the crowd. They probably felt good that they were keeping me out of something important. Keeping me, a man of dubious practices, working for the enemy, taking their hard-earned money away from someone special, something important.
Actually, I needed to see him. I’d heard so much about all he was doing, how he was changing things. Perhaps he was just what I needed.
If, I couldn’t get through the crowds, there was only one thing for it if I really wanted to see this man. So I climbed a tree.
I know! Hardly dignified is it. Though it did give me a bit of camouflage to see what was going on without being seen. At least I thought it did…
Suddenly everything stopped. The whole commotion of the passage of Jesus through our town. Jesus looked up. Straight at me. He even knew my name. He knew exactly who and what I was.
He called me down. He wanted to come and stay with me.
Me? Zacchaeus? He must have the wrong person. Confused by my being in a tree. I am not the kind of person anyone drops in on – more likely they run away – fast.
But it seems he did mean me. And he knew who I was. And what I did – all of it.
How that man changed my life. It was like having God there with me, in the room. God who knows everything you’ve ever got wrong, yet will come and have tea with you.
I knew then. I couldn’t go on living the way I had. Making a bit extra for myself, not worrying how much others suffered as long as I was raking it in.
But more than that. I knew it wasn’t just enough to stop. I had to do something about what I’d done wrong previously. And so I started, right then, handing back to people what I had over-charged them, the bit (well actually often a lot) I had been pocketing for myself. I had to make things right – with God and with those I had cheated. Having met Jesus, there was nothing else I could do.
Thank you Jesus for coming to me that day. Even knowing who I was and what I’d done, for taking the time just to be with me, to bring God to me, helping me to understand his ways, and set my life back on his track.