Luke 19:10 – For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (ESV)
"Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was heeee …" I can remember singing this song in Sunday School. I loved that song because I was a little girl, and I knew what it felt like to be left out and overlooked in a world of adults.
Now that I am an adult, I imagine what it would be like if Jesus were coming to my town. Would I stay home to avoid the crowds, allowing my preference for quiet and comfort to overshadow the chance to see Jesus? Or, would I recognize the importance of the event — the very presence of Jesus — and gather myself to see Him?
I can imagine getting ready. I'd shower and put on nice clothes. I might even bring loaves and fishes just in case I could be part of a miracle. I might make a sign to hold and wave to capture His attention and show everyone that I believe in Him. I would think about Him stopping in front of me and smiling, looking into my eyes, and saying something loving and profoundly wise.
I could imagine myself jockeying for position at the front of the crowd, being assertive in order to gain a glimpse of Him. Then along comes Zacchaeus, the guy that ripped me off. No way was I going to let him get in front of me. Sure, I'd let children through so they can see, but not Zacchaeus! He did not deserve a front-row viewing.
A little while later, I see Jesus looking up into a tree. Jesus, about to speak. The crowd hushes in order to catch each word: "Zacchaeus … your house."
What?! Not fair! I mean, I know I'm not the best and brightest person Jesus could have picked to talk to, but Zacchaeus? The guy who is notorious for theft and dishonesty? That weasel? Jesus could have at least gone to a priest's or pastor's house or even a commoner's house, but honouring Zacchaeus?
At least Zacchaeus has the decency to repent, but he should have done that long before meeting Jesus …
As I think about Zacchaeus, I identify more with the crowd than with the wicked Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus knew he was a sinner. Upon meeting Jesus, he repented. Zacchaeus was desperate for Jesus. Zacchaeus knew he was hated by the crowd. Of all the people, all the hurts and needs and wishes and dreams and egos, Jesus sought out Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus, who knew he was a sinner, Zacchaeus, who did not make excuses, who did not tout himself as worthy of Jesus' attention, who did not try and disguise his true sinful nature, and who did not think of himself in false, glowing terms. Zacchaeus knew he was lost. Zacchaeus knew he needed a saviour.
Do I resent Jesus' goodness to others? Do I shake my head in disbelief when the death-row inmate professes faith in Christ? Do I think I am better than others, or do I recognize that sin is the common denominator of all mankind? Am I false with Jesus, presenting my good works instead of my heart? Do I try to clean myself up before coming to Him, or do I allow Him to know the real me, the me that needs His cleansing?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that You seek and save the lost. We are lost apart from You. Forgive us for thinking that we are better, just a little better than someone else. Forgive us for withholding from others the love and grace You have given to us. Please give us hearts like Yours, hearts to love the despised and rejected. Amen.