A Man, a Tree, and a Pursuit
Do you ever feel like you’re on pursuit towards something that’s almost right there? You can see it in the distance. You know if you work a little harder, you’ll get it? Maybe it’s a promotion. You have given it all you’ve got. You just need your boss to notice.
Or perhaps you’ve prayed and waited for a husband. You hope he’s out there. You just need God to tell you where and what to do to find him.
Sometimes it can feel that way with the Lord. We want to be seen by Him, to have Him acknowledge us personally.
As I was studying in Luke the other day, there was a familiar story that caught my attention in a new way.
“There was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because of the crowd, since he was a short man. So running ahead, he climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus, since He was about to pass that way” Luke 19:2-4
I picture the buzz on the streets. People possibly heard of Jesus healing the blind man outside of Jericho. They might have seen the crowd coming from down the road. People were racing out of their homes and markets. Crowds were forming along the street to catch a glimpse of the powerful Teacher.
Here was a man striving to see Jesus. He had heard about Him. The rumours had spread and Zacchaeus was going to do whatever he could to look at Jesus for himself. He wanted in on the action. Unashamed, he pushed through the crowd and ran ahead. He climbed up into a tree for a better vantage point. He knew that he would miss everything if he didn’t. His heart was probably racing, anticipation overwhelming him.
As I read this section over, something powerful resounded. The Holy Spirit had been working in this man’s heart, preparing him for this awaited time. The Messiah was about to pass by. Zacchaeus realized this was his chance to connect. It was his moment to be seen by Jesus.
“When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today I must stay at your house.” – Luke 19:5
Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the tree and called him personally. The Scripture didn’t say that Jesus asked for his name or said, “Hey you…”. Jesus called Zacchaeus. He knew him. Then He invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house. “I must stay”. Jesus knew Zacchaeus wanted Him. He knew that his heart was ready to hear what Jesus had to say.
“So he quickly came down and welcomed Him joyfully. All who saw it began to complain, “He’s gone to lodge with a sinful man!” – Luke 19:6-7
Zacchaeus wasn’t considered a good man. Being the chief tax collector, meant that he likely committed the most fraud. You see, the government instructed the tax collectors to take taxes from the people. However, it would let the collectors tack on any fees above what was necessary. They could set their own price. So, they took advantage of this and left many people high and dry.
People were looking to Jesus for help. They wanted Him to end their oppression from people like Zacchaeus. So, it didn’t exactly sit well with them when Jesus hung out with tax collectors.
It also didn’t sit well with the religious leaders. They had looked highly upon their own self-righteousness. They were to love the Lord above all else. They were to love others as themselves. Not put themselves above everything and distain everyone else.
“But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:30-32
Why? Because the sinners’ hearts were ready and in need of repentance. They felt Jesus’ presence. They were tired of living a life in bondage to sin. They knew there was more to life and they wanted it. The Pharisees and religious leaders’ hearts were so caught up in their practices that they were missing out on the relationship and heart of God.
“But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much!” Luke 19:8
Zacchaeus’ joyfully welcomed Jesus. He instantly had a repentant heart. He knew his wrongs and wanted to make them right. Giving four times the amount of money back was a punishment for thieves. He saw that what he had been doing was against the heart and will of the Lord and was ready to repent and change his ways. Being the chief tax collector meant that he could influence and correct those that were under his authority as well. This wasn’t just one man’s change. This could have been many.
Zacchaeus was ready for a new life. The Holy Spirit had paved the way, softened his heart, and prepared him for when Jesus came “knocking”.
“Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:9
Jesus offered salvation to Zacchaeus. He saw this man’s faith and willingness for change. He saw his eagerness to see Jesus and have a relationship with Him. This man’s life was radically changed. Though the people complained at the moment, I’m sure they were grateful after.
Do you feel a conviction to want to know more about Jesus? Do you feel like you’re on a pursuit to know Him more? To be seen by God? He knows you too. He’s right there calling out your name waiting for you to respond. Do you have a relationship with Jesus? If you do, but have gotten caught up in the race of life, stop striving. Sit and listen. He’s there waiting to chat with you.
I pray you feel the joy return as you connect with Him. If you have any questions about this and Jesus, please send me a message. I’d be happy to chat with you too.