And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way . And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it , they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, for so much as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
There are some so very useful things we can learn here from the word of God. I was reading this passage and Spirit of God helped me concentrate on Zacchaeus.
He was probably a shrewd, powerful, rich person against whom people could not speak generally (in open) and he was short in height. He is seen as a sinner though by pharisees. I noticed that while he is short, it does not subdue his enthusiasm to see Jesus from close at whatever cost. This is one character of a sinner which is utmost needed – to become enthusiastic/interested/eager to find and see Jesus at whatever cost. Whether it takes to give away our prejudices, or giving up certain activities we used to do earlier, or giving up some faith practises (overcome the obstacles which hinder us to see Jesus) to be able to see Jesus with clarity as exactly who he is and how he is. Short person as Zacchaeus was, he could not have seen Jesus unless he overcame his fear (what people will say) and shame (people might ridicule) and physical limitation (his height which stopped him from seeing Jesus). What he simply did was that he climbed up the best positioned object, the sycomore tree on the way of Jesus, so that he could have a vision of savior.
We need to overcome the fear of anxiety of what people will think and say of us or even ridicule us for our new faith, we also need to overcome the limitations which could be our wordly wisdom, religious knowledge, cultural bonds etc. This could only happen because Zacchaeus realized that he was short and so we definitely need to realize we are sinners. Without this realization, Zacchaeus would not have taken any step to see Jesus physically and we cannot take either to see Jesus spiritually.
Secondly, what we see in this passage is that Jesus is interested in such people who gives it priority to see him at the cost of their fear, shame and worldly respect and who are willing/eager to find Jesus. He calls them by name and He meets them personally at their very home. While with Zacchaeus, it was his physical home, with us, it is our hearts where God meets us now (Revelation 3:20).
Jesus is willing (thats why he came due to his love for us to die in our place and pay the price of our sins, even when we were yet sinners and enemy to him), are we willing?
One thing we notice is, Jesus said, “Come down”. We may be on whatever position of standing, we need to come down on the call of Christ as Zacchaeus did. Even though he saw Jesus but he would not have recevied salvation if he did not hear Jesus or CAME DOWN from the tree and took Jesus to his home. Jesus was willing to go to his home, he is willing to come in our hearts too. Yet nothing would have happened if Zacchaeus had not opened his doors for Jesus and nothing will happen if we don’t open our hearts for Jesus either. We may like the teachings of the Bible but it will not transform us unless we are willing to come down. Are we?
Third beautiful thing I noticed was that this person had not repented or given up his bad habits or anything which was there earlier. His only first response was to be interested in Jesus and wanting to see him closely. However, when Jesus came in his home, his attitude automatically changed and he gave up what was really needed to be given up. We do not see Jesus preaching him conversion of heart, forcing him to repay the extra-deducted tax (anything earned in a wrong way) or do anything which is a sign of a repantant heart. It was the work of the Holy Spirit which happened in him as he accepted Jesus in his home.
As preachers or evangelists, we do not have to take over the responsibility of the Holy Spirit and try to convict and change people, the change comes automatically as Jesus comes in the heart and cleanses the person from within. Our push will only do an external change and yet the roots will remain which might bring up fruits of the flesh in its season; however, Jesus said that he came to put axe at the roots; he shall take care.
At times, we become so much anxious after sharing the gospel as to why the person is not giving up certain things he should and even become agitated after several trials, this happens because we are not letting the Holy Spirit work. Our job is to encourage the person to realize that he is short (of God’s glory, a sinner – Romans 3:23) and that he feels the need of Jesus and becomes eager to meet him. After this, inner cleaning shall be done by the Holy Spirit and we only need to water the plant of faith which springs up as that person accepts Jesus in his home (heart) so that he/she is nurtured well to become a tree and which bears godly fruits (Psalm 1:3).
God bless you.
Dear God, we want to trust in you more. We want to have a simple heart like Zacchaeus who was willing to give up his worldly respect and fear of ridicule in leu of meeting you. Please help us and give grace that we also will not hold anything which hinders us in meeting with you. Bless us O God. In Jesus name we pray. Amen