If you learned the story of Zacchaeus as a child, you probably remember that he was a “wee little man,” as the song goes, and he climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus saw him and told him to come down and then Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house to spend time with him. The thing we may not remember is that Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector for the Roman government. Rome had conquered Israel. As a Jew working for the Romans, he was a traitor to his own people. Tax collectors were despised because they demanded more taxes than were actually due and pocketed the additional money. He was not only rejected by society, but he was also banned from worshipping at the Temple. Circumstance would say that Zacchaeus was a lonely man. His interest in seeing Jesus indicates that he was curious about what Jesus had to offer. His willingness to embarrass himself publically (by running down the street and climbing a tree) just to get a look at Jesus shows desperation. Jesus was waiting for Zacchaeus and called him by name. Imagine the crowd’s dismay as Jesus heads home with one of society’s most notorious sinners! Jesus didn’t come for the found; He came for the lost!
2 Cor 5:17; Lk 19:1-10
Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past if forgotten, and everything is new. (2 Cor 5:17)
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Lk 19:9-10)
In the Bible there are many extraordinary stories about people who violated society’s standards to get close to Jesus. The woman with the issue of blood had suffered for 12 years. She dared to reach out and touch Jesus’ robe even though it was against Jewish Law to touch a Rabbi. Remember the four men who dug a hole through the roof of the home where Jesus was teaching in order to get their friend close to Jesus. In each situation Jesus performed a miracle. Zacchaeus experienced a miracle because he was willing to run and climb and throw away his dignity to see Jesus. When the need gets great enough, you don’t worry about protocol or what other people think. You reach, dig, run, climb or do whatever it takes to get close to the Savior. If you seek God, you’ll find him. When you pursue God, he’ll reveal himself to you. Jesus knows your name, he sees your potential; he wants to know you personally. You cannot meet Jesus without being changed. Zacchaeus immediately began to make amends for the wrongs he had committed. He didn’t decide to repay what he had taken in order to get Jesus’ approval; he did it because he had gotten Jesus’ approval. A relationship with Jesus changes everything. Jesus gave Zacchaeus a new view!
Can you describe a time when you felt rejected? Who does our society reject? Why? How has the idea of political correctness helped or hurt people who are marginalized? Do you tend to see wealthy or powerful people as “having it made”? How is this deceiving? How is pursuing Jesus an affront to cultural ideas? How does your relationship with Jesus affect the way your friends and co-workers respond to you? If you reach out to someone who is rejected by your circle of friends or co-workers, how does it affect the way they treat you? Do you run toward God without concern for how others perceive you? In what way? Or why not? Is there an area of your life where you are holding back from fully pursuing God? Why?
Reach out to someone who is on the outside at your work or in your neighborhood. Find ways to make them feel accepted by you and to let them know that God loves and accepts them. Pray for them.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for accepting me and giving me a new view. Help me to point to you by my actions and my words. Draw near to those who are hurting, broken and rejected. Help them to see your love and grace. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.