Small in Stature
Luke 19:1-3 ESV
“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.”
As I was reading this story of Zacchaeus, I was inclined to keep the story all together, and to not break it up in sections, so as to not lose continuity. But, when I got to the words “small in stature,” I felt a gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit to pause there, and to reflect on what had just been said.
So, I looked up the word “small,” and I felt drawn toward the synonym “lower.” And, a synonym of “lower” is “humble,” which is where I felt this was headed.
And, “stature,” besides having to do with physical height, has to do with one’s level of importance, and the word “small” also means “less important.”
Zacchaeus was a sinner. We are all born into sin. He was a tax collector by trade, and tax collectors were despised, as they had a reputation of cheating people. Cheating is a sin. We all have sinned. Most likely his riches were ill-gotten by unlawful means. We are all law breakers by nature.
But, he was seeking Jesus. Are you seeking him? Have you found him?
But, he was small in stature. We all fall short of the glory of God. And, the crowd blocked his view of Jesus. And, the world blocks our view of Jesus, too, when we focus on the world and not on God, and when we let the world’s opinions of us keep us from following after Jesus, too.
Hurry and Come Down
Luke 19:4-6 ESV
“So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.”
So, what did Zacchaeus do? If he had pride, he swallowed it, and he climbed a tree, risking being mocked, criticized, and called out and ridiculed in front of the crowd.
So, he humbled himself, basically, and unashamedly got up in that tree so that he could see Jesus for who he was. And, that is what we need to do, too, if we have not done that already, or if we have slipped back into following after self, and we need to refocus our attention on Jesus.
And, I am not saying we need to climb physical trees, obviously, but that if we really want to see Jesus for who he is, we need to humble ourselves, and we need to be willing to have the world mock us and think we are nuts for forsaking the world to get a closer look at Jesus.
And, I am not talking about just taking a gander at Jesus, either, or gaining some intellectual knowledge about him. But, this is about drawing close to him, to really get to know him intimately.
A Divine Appointment
But, now Jesus was already prepared for this moment. He knew he was going to find Zacchaeus up in that tree. For, he had a divine appointment with Zacchaeus, much like he did that day with the Samaritan woman at that well. And, he knew what Zacchaeus’ response was going to be, too.
And, that is the same for us, too, for obviously Zacchaeus was drawn to Jesus Christ, which is why he had the desire to want to see who he was, and why his heart was already prepared to go with Jesus, and to have him come into his house to stay with him. Do you see where I am going with this?
Jesus said that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures teach that we cannot even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father draws us to him (John 14:6; John 6:44).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
So, we only come to faith in Jesus Christ by divine appointment, as we are drawn to him by the Father, and as we are gifted with the faith to believe in him as our Lord and Savior.
And, thus, if we receive Jesus with this faith that comes from God, we will receive him into our lives joyfully to be King of our hearts, to rule over our lives, to deliver us out of our slavery to sin, and to empower and equip us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
To Save the Lost
Luke 19:7-10 ESV
“And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”
We who have known the Lord a long time and/or who are well versed in the Scriptures, need to be so careful that we don’t forget that we were born into this world as sinners, too, and that it is only by God’s grace, and through his gift of faith, that any of us are able to be made righteous before God.
And, instead of condemning those we regard as “sinful,” we need to have compassionate hearts towards them, and we need to be praying for their salvation. And, we need to be loving them with Christ’s love, and we need to forgive them as Christ forgave us.
And, we need to share with them how they, too, can be set free from their bondage to sin, and how they, as well, can walk with Jesus in a close abiding relationship with him which forsakes our former lives of sin to walk with him in obedience to his commands (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
But, and I must caution here against having this idea that love and compassion is the same as tolerance and acceptance of sinful practices. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, but he told her to go and sin no more. When Jesus forgives us, he doesn’t then turn a blind eye to any further sin. And, it isn’t as though he doesn’t notice if we continue in sin.
He does notice, because the New Testament is filled with, not only instructions, but with strong warnings to the church against falling back into or continuing in our sinful practices, having the mistaken notion that God’s grace is free license to continue in sin without guilt.
He reminds us often of where we came from, but where God brought us, if we are truly in Christ, and of what it means for us to be true followers of Jesus.
Does he do this because he just wants to throw our past up at us? No! He does this because he sees where we are headed, and if we are headed in the wrong direction, he doesn’t want us to return to where we were before, because he loves us.
And, he wants nothing more for us for than for us to walk in holiness and in purity of devotion to him, in all honesty, and in complete faithfulness to him. So, he reminds us that we don’t want to go back there. And, he leads us in the right way.
When Zacchaeus was confronted with his sinfulness, although not in a loving manner by his accusers, certainly, it did prompt him, nonetheless, to make his heart right with God. He was prompted, I believe of the Holy Spirit, to repent of his sins, and even to make restitution for any way in which he had wronged (cheated) others.
That is true repentance when we turn from our wicked ways and we turn to God to follow our Lord in his ways. For, we learn in Scripture that if we were in the habit of stealing, that we should now work with our hands and give to the poor. If we were in the habit of lying, we should now cease telling lies, and we should become truth tellers, instead (See Eph. 4-5).
For, Jesus didn’t die on that cross just to forgive us our sins, and especially not so we could then keep on sinning against him willfully without guilt. He died to transform our lives away from living for sin and self to now living to him and to his righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Eph. 4:17-24).
Zacchaeus got that. He understood that. Sadly, not many people who call themselves Christians today, at least here in America, seem to really get that. They think Jesus is just their free ticket into heaven but that they can live however they want.
But, Zacchaeus got that closer look at Jesus, and he realized that following Jesus meant leaving his old life behind him, and to now have a new life in Jesus, completely changed, which is not like the life he had before.
Zacchaeus was now saved from his sins because he believed Jesus for who he was, which then resulted in him repenting of his sins and becoming new in Christ.
For, this is why Jesus came, not just to forgive us and to promise us heaven when we die, but to truly save us (to rescue us) out of our slavery to sin, and to give us new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-26).
More Precious Than Silver
Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.