Luke 19:1-3 (NIV)
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
3 He wanted to see who Jesus was…
On verses 1-3: In Jesus’ day, tax collectors had a reputation for being greedy and dishonest. Tax collectors were notorious for trying to collect more taxes from the Jews than they actually owed, pocketing the difference for themselves. As a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus was wealthy and unpopular. Ironically, Zacchaeus’ name means “righteous” or “pure one”, though Zacchaeus probably felt like he was anything but righteous and pure. Despite having much wealth, Zacchaeus’ relationships were a mess. One of the big lessons from Zacchaeus’ story is that you can have great material wealth, but if your relationships with God and with people are broken, you will feel empty, poor and stressed with life. It’s no wonder Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. Zacchaeus probably thought: “Maybe this guy has something that I’m missing.”
Luke 19:3-4 (NIV)
…but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.
4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
On verses 3-4: Zacchaeus did not allow his own limitations or his circumstances to keep him from seeing Jesus. Zacchaeus chose to be proactive by running ahead of the crowd and climbing a sycamore-fig tree so that he could have a good view of Jesus as Jesus passed by.
What can we learn from this? If you want a greater experience of Jesus, don’t make any excuses for yourself. Instead, be proactive in your relationship with God. To be proactive means to take initiative and to do something in advance about a situation rather than just reacting to the situation later.
When it comes to your relationship with God, how proactive are you? Do you take initiative or do you lazily wait until others challenge you? Blessed are the proactive, for they will experience God at a greater level.
Luke 10:5-6 (NIV)
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
On verses 5-6: For a short time the tree was helpful to Zacchaeus. From that tree Zacchaeus could see and experience Jesus from afar. But Jesus didn’t want Zacchaeus to settle for being a spectator. Jesus wanted an up close and personal relationship with Zacchaeus. So Jesus tells Zacchaeus, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” If Zacchaeus insisted on staying in the tree, he would have missed the greater things Jesus wanted to do in his life.
Likewise, is there a tree that you’re hanging onto today? At first you might find that the tree holds you up, gives you comfort, makes life convenient, helps you stay in control, and might even help you see a bit of Jesus. But after Jesus calls you to something greater, that tree is no longer holding you up. It’s holding you back.
You will not grow or experience the greater things that God has for you just by doing what you have always done. You need to be willing to change and get down from your tree.
Luke 10:7-9 (NIV)
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.'”
8 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.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
On verses 7-9: What caused Jesus to say about Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house?” (v9) Was it the fact that Zacchaeus dealt with 2 sins in his life? No. Zacchaeus had a lot more sins in his life than just these two. The reason why Jesus says to Zacchaeus, “Salvation has come to this house” is because Zacchaeus said yes when Jesus said, “Let me into your life.” In other words, it wasn’t Zacchaeus’ good works that brought salvation to Zacchaeus’ house. It was because Zacchaeus opened the door to Jesus, who is salvation.
You could even say that the tree Zacchaeus climbed up and eventually came down from represents Zacchaeus’ effort to reach God. The best he could do with his own effort was to see Jesus from a distance, but he had no relationship with Jesus.
Luke 10:10 (NIV)
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
On verse 10: It wasn’t so much that Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus. It was Jesus who was looking for Zacchaeus. Evidently Jesus wasn’t just passing through Zacchaeus’ town. Jesus was heading straight in Zacchaeus’ path.
In the same way, realize that long before you ever searched for God, God was searching for you. Eventually Zacchaeus would have to come down from that tree. But a few days later, in order to seek and to save what was lost, Jesus Himself would get up on a tree and die for Zacchaeus’ sins and our sins as well.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would be proactive in the way I worship You, seek Your face and approach my relationship with You. Thank You that, like Zacchaeus, long before I was looking for You, You were looking for me and wanted a relationship with me. I open up my heart to You today and say come have Your way. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!