Read Luke 19:1-10

Sing it with me… “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he…”

We have all probably heard the story of Zacchaeus.  Most of us might even have sung about him in Sunday school, but let’s really examine the story that is being told.

Jesus is entering the city of Jericho, and a crowd has gathered.  Zacchaeus knows he won’t be able to see Jesus from where he is, so he tries to get a better vantage point.

He climbs a tree.

Then, as Jesus is walking by, Zacchaeus is literally singled out in the crowd.  Jesus calls out to Zacchaeus, and invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house for lunch.  This simple act causes Zacchaeus to make a drastic life change.  He gives away half of his possessions to the poor, and vows to repay anyone he has cheated four times the amount.

What a change!

So why a tree?  Why did Zacchaeus have to climb to see Jesus?  The story would have us believe that it was because Zacchaeus was short, but that is only half the reason.  The story also says Zacchaeus couldn’t see over the crowd.  Essentially the crowd was a barrier between Zacchaeus and Jesus.

Next question, why couldn’t Zacchaeus just push his way through the crowd to get a better view?

The answer to this might have something to do with who Zacchaeus was and how the crowd felt about him.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector.  On the list of people who were hated by the Israelites, tax collectors were right at the top.  Right beside the Romans.  Tax collectors were basically an extension of the oppression of Rom.  They were Israelites who had sold out their allegiance and were working with the enemy.  They collected taxes, and were able to keep any extra money they gained on top of what Rome required.  Most tax collectors were wealthy, and everyone knew their money had been

gained by taking advantage of their own people.

So why couldn’t Zacchaeus push his way to the front of the crowd?  Probably because he wouldn’t have been safe walking into that crowd.  It’s very possible that someone would have tried to hurt or even kill Zacchaeus if he pushed his way to the front.  So there he is, on the outside, apart from the crowd.  He is trying to get a glimpse of Jesus, but his job and who he is, is literally keeping him at a distance from Jesus.

So he climbs a tree.

And then the unthinkable happens.  Jesus looks past all the good Israelites and see Zacchaeus.  The sinner.  The traitor to his own people.  And Jesus calls to him.  Jesus’ love breaks through the crowd and meets Zacchaeus right where he is.  And it changes Zacchaeus.

This is the amazing thing about Jesus.

Jesus can’t be kept away.  He sees past the crowd.  He sees past the barriers we feel are keeping us away.  Jesus calls to us.  He invites Himself into our lives.  He calls us to see ourselves not as everyone else might, but as He see us.  We are not the sum of our faults and failings.  We are desirable.  We are worthy of Jesus attention.

Are you on the outside looking in?  is there something keeping you from having an encounter with Jesus?  Pray that this week Jesus would see you out, and reach past any barriers that might be keeping you from His presence.

Pauls tells us in Romans, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neighed height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 8:38-39)

Nothing can keep Jesus away.  Nothing.

  1. Is this message for you?
  2. Is there anything you feel is keeping you apart from Jesus?

Or maybe it is a message you need to share with someone this week.  Ask God to show you who might need to be reminded of Jesus’ unstoppable, all-inclusive love.

Day 1 of 8 from the 2016 Mission Discovery Devotional