Zacchaeus couldn’t see properly. He was desperate to see Jesus. The crowd was huge and he was small. He couldn’t see over the heads of the crowds and he couldn’t see what going on. A little bit like when Liverpool won the European Cup in 2005, when they brought the cup home, the crowds came out to see the team and the cup. Who remembers these scenes! Fantastic wasn’t it, amazing atmosphere. But it was difficult to see wasn’t it, every jostling for the best position.
And For Zaccaeus, this was the something similar to the scene that was unfolding before his own eyes in his own village.
You see there was another problem. Zac wasn’t liked very much. He was well known by most people. They’d all met Zacc before and most people had taken an instant dis-like to him. You see he was a tax collector. He was a Jew, but he had turned his back on his own people and joined forces with the Romans. He worked for them collecting the taxes that the people had to pay to Caesar. And because of this he had become wealthy. And the wealthier he got the more unpopular with his own people he became.
But not only could Zac not see Jesus because of the huge crowds, he couldn’t see in another way as well. He was lost. He’d lost his way.
And we read that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. But Zach didn’t even know he was lost. Like most people in the world, he was just a normal person, trying to make headway in the world.
You know, before I became a Christian, I was a Zach, and perhaps you were to. A Zach is a person who is mainly concerned about one person: themselves. Here’s a couple of ways in which each of us can relate to Zach.
- None of us really measures up
The one thing we all know about Zach is that he was vertically challenged. This reminds me of the man who went to the doctor’s for a physical. The nurse asked him his weight and he said, “12 stone.” She had him step on the scales and she said, “You weigh 16 stone.” The nurse asked, “How tall are you?” He said, “Six feet two.” She measured him and said, “You are actually five feet, five inches.” She started taking his blood pressure and he said, is your blood pressure usually normal.. To which re replied, “How can you expect my blood pressure to be normal? I came in here a tall, thin man, and you’ve already made me short and fat!”
When it comes to God’s standard, we are all short of the mark, none of us can cut it. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall SHORT of the standard of God.” We all fall far short of God’s standard: Only Jesus measures up. He has a name that is above every other name! The first step towards salvation is recognizing that by ourselves, we will never measure up.
- He was desperately seeking something
Zach was rich, but he wasn’t happy. There was something missing in his life. The details of this story show he was a desperate man. Lets not forget he was rich and dignified, yet he ran down the road to try to get into position. Desperate people run. I used to climb trees when I was a kid, Not now. Most adults don’t climb trees, unless they’re being chased by a fierce dog or something. Climbing a tree for Zach is an act of desperation.
Zach had an itch that nothing could scratch. He probably didn’t even know what he needed. He just knew he desperately needed something. When he heard Jesus was in town, he was hoping Jesus might have the solution to his problem. He didn’t know it, but he was looking for God.
Are you like Zach? Are you desperately looking for something and you don’t even know what it is? Well I want to say today, that Jesus is waiting. He stands at the door and knocks. He will never force his way into your life, you have to open your heart to him. If you want to know how to do that, please speak to me after the service.
Very briefly lets look at the second character of this stor…
- JESUS We can see ourselves in Zacchaeus. We’ve all been there, and some of us are still there, searching for God. The good news is while you are searching for God, He is searching for you. That’s why Jesus came to the earth. According to Luke 19:10, He came to seek out and to save all the Zachs like you and me. Jesus Christ came on the greatest search and rescue mission in history! Zach was lost, and Jesus came all the way from heaven to find him and help him. In Luke 19, Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world. He would be arrested and crucified just a few days after He visited Jericho. But on His way to the cross, He stopped in Jericho to seek out a couple of blokes–a blind man named Bartimaeus and a short tax collector named Zacchaeus. Why? Because those men were desperately seeking God. He’s seeking you today, too.
You see, He knows you. The first word Jesus spoke to Zacheaus were what? “Zacchaeus!” He called him by his name. Now, Zacchaeus, had probably been called many unmentionable names. But he must have thought, “He knows my name! How does He know me? Jesus knew His name for the same reason He knows your name–because He is God. God said in Isaiah 43:1: “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” You may think you are all alone in this world, you may be going through a tough time and think and nobody cares or understands. But there is a loving God who created the Universe, who created you, who does.
- He knows what you need–a relationship
After Jesus called his name, He beckoned Zach to come down from the tree. “Zacchaeus, come down!” Jesus spoke these words in love and compassion.
Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn sinners–He came to save them. He knew Zacchaeus needed to know he could have a personal relationship with Jesus. Instead of condemning Zach, He said, “Let’s go to your house.” At that point, the religious crowd turned against Jesus and criticized Him for spending time with a sinner like Zach.
I often wonder what they did at Zach’s house? Well the Bible says Jesus went to Zach’s house to EAT with him. I can see them sitting there sipping some juice and dipping pieces of pita bread in the humus sauce like Israelis still do today. At some point Jesus says, “Zach, tell me about your job.” And before he knows it, Zach poured out his heart to Jesus, telling him everything. Before the conversation was over, Zach was a changed man. Spending time with Jesus changed him. Do we need to spend more time with Jesus, to let him change us? When did you last spend quality time with him?
You see, Jesus sees you not as you are–but as who you can become. Everyone else looked at Zach and saw a mean, little, dirty rotten sinner. Not Jesus. Do you know what the name “Zacchaeus” means? It means “pure.” Jesus didn’t see a crooked tax collector, He saw a man who could become PURE. He saw a man who could be so generous he would give half of his money away.
Most of us have heard this story so many times and think that it doesn’t have anything to do with us, but let’s go back to the beginning of this story. You see, theres another character that’s often forgotten about, the tree that holding little Zach up? FOR those of us who call ourselves Christians. ARE YOU WILLING TO BE A TREE TO LIFT PEOPLE ABOVE THE CROWD SO THEY CAN SEE JESUS?You see we can’t be Jesus to people. We can only lift people above the crowd so they can see Jesus clearly. That’s our job! We can’t save people, only Jesus can. We can’t change people–only Jesus can. Our job is simply to lift people up until they see Jesus, then He takes over.
What would have happened to Zacchaeus if there hadn’t been a tree there that day? We don’t know. The good news is God had planted a tree just in the right spot so Zacchaeus could see Jesus. Has God planted you somewhere today that it seems your job is to simply lift someone up so they can see Jesus?