As believers in Christ we can become excited reading about the things that Jesus said and did.
With the help of some Bible references and other study aids, we can often learn an even deeper message. Imagination is also a real asset. Small, seemingly insignificant details are often included by each Gospel writer, for a very good reason! Even help us understand the human side of our Lord that much better!
We take a look at a man called Zacchaeus, a tax man, and his amazing encounter with Jesus.
The record is in Luke 19:1-10.
The city of Jericho is the scene. Jesus entered in - and left. When Joshua conquered the land, this city, was to be fully devoted to God. Everything was to be destroyed. It is truly, a city of death and is used again (in that sense) in Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan. Zacchaeus lived here! He is recorded as being very rich, presumably from his `ill gotten gains'. Was he content with his money and living it up? I suspect not.
His name is drawn from an Aramaic word meaning `Pure, righteous, clean' in a religious sense. This may tell us something important about Zacchaeus. Was he trying hard to put his life right? I suspect so!
Look at his enthusiasm to see Jesus. He must have had an urgent need? It couldn't wait!
It seems that Zacchaeus was much more than an idle spectator. He was a man with a mission.
1. He went out amongst a possibly hostile crowd?
2. He ran to get ahead of the rest.
3. He climbed a tree to see Jesus.
4. He watched and waited.
Their eyes met; there was a `connection' being made.
Jesus looked and Zacchaeus saw. Now they communed and the first detail: "Today, I must enter and stay at your house." A truly Royal request - who could refuse? This was much more than the man, (deemed by others to be a sinner) could have anticipated or wished for. No wonder the record says he "received Him joyfully!"
Surely a mutual pleasure.
The lesson is clear.
Christ wants to enter the `personal space' of every repentant sinner. He promises to `arrive with His Father at our door!' We must be ready, joyful and open up to them. Zacchaeus accepted, but made a public confession of his faith before witnesses. One wonders if this man had been influenced by John the Baptist, understood his sin, even baptized as a result of his heart change.
This confession has so much to tell us.
A number of commentators suggest that the present tense is employed in his words of commitment, so that Zacchaeus had already begun the process of restoration BEFORE this encounter.
Look at his spirit! A rich man willing to go 50/50 with the poor? Few would go that far! In addition, he regarded the law and acted lawfully in the matter of restitution (Exodus 22:1).
Paul's comment , "...for the Lord loves the cheerful giver," (2 Corinthians 9:7) is very appropriate here. Guess Zacchaeus had little left after all that! Now he would feel `comfortable' about the Lord of Life entering his home and his life. One wonders if he had heard and embraced the Lord's words, "How hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God."
There is an important matter here.
Followers of Christ need to set about making amends, changing bad habits, putting wrong matters right with others, if they truly want the Lord to fully enter into their lives. This makes this one `little man' short of stature full grown, fully mature - A true son of Abraham and as seen and found by the Lord. Such examples must have inspired Jesus himself as He made His way off to Jerusalem, to the cross to complete His commitment to His Heavenly Father.
Bro. Neil Todd