When Z Leaves the Tree…
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 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. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.””
Here we find a perfect example in Zacchaeus of a relationship with Jesus going from a seed to a fruitful harvest. This narrative also paints a picture of what we have been talking about over the last four weeks. At the beginning of this story, we find Zacchaeus (let’s call him Z) where anyone in his shoes would find themselves… admiring Jesus. He was a man that benefitted from the misfortune and unjust treatment of his fellow citizens. Despite his sinful behaviors, he still desired to see the spectacle that was Jesus. He did what he needed to do to get a glimpse of the glory that was Jesus, even though he lived a life that contradicted Jesus’ message.
Then… it happened. Jesus came to his rescue, even if he didn’t know he needed it. Think about this. Jesus, who at this point is at top celebrity status (whether people loved Him or hated Him, He was center stage) sees an admirer in the crowd, knows his heart, and lovingly decides that today is the day for an invitation into His Kingdom. But… Z has a decision to make. Does he, knowing that Jesus will hear stories and see evidence to get a clearer picture of who Z really is, invite Jesus in? Z’s answer is an enthusiastic YES!
Not only that… In the middle of this unexpected dinner with the holy of holies, Z can no longer resist the power of the Holy Spirit. He jumps up at the table and not only confesses his sins to everyone but promises to repent of his sins and give 4x the reparations he owes to make things right. And it’s at that moment that Jesus acknowledges the change in his heart and declares salvation over Z’s life. And uses this moment to teach all that would listen, that He “came to seek and to save the lost.”
In this story, we see the commitment to encounter Jesus, the humility to embrace Jesus, and the embodiment of the ways of Jesus that takes place when His love is fully accepted and experienced. That’s the key. Not whether we can earn or “catch a glimpse” of His love… but whether we acknowledge that His love is already there and accept it as a gift that will change our hearts forever.
So, how do we respond? By meditating on these questions…
Are we willing to posture our lives so we can see the love of Christ?
Are we willing to invite Christ all the way into our lives?
Are we willing to let go of whatever it is that He might find?