I am not sure why the story of Zacchaeus is often left to our “kidz” church days along with classics like “Father Abraham” and “If You’re Happy and You Know it”. Yes, Zacchaeus is popular with the 3 to 5 year old crowd… but if you’ll let me pull him down from the flannel graph for a moment, I’ll show that there is still a lot Zacchaeus can teach this 35 year old.
Here’s the Story (in case you missed it)…
Luke 19:1 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke gives us enough information about Zacchaeus’ to create the following caricature of him. First, he was a tax collector, making him fairly unpopular. Second, that he was wealthy, so at least he was good at his job. Finally that he was a man of “short stature,” which meant he probably owned a bigger camel than his neighbors 🙂
I believe there is something about Zacchaeus that most of us can relate to. Maybe your not vertically challenged like our little friend. However I assure you the same limiting factors that Zacchaeus faced are also trying to limit you. Let’s take a look at three perspectives revealed in this story.
The First… What They Say.
Zacchaeus hears the news that Jesus is coming through town. He’s heard the stories of healings, massive crowds, and miracles. This makes his arrival something everyone, including Zacchaeus wants to witness. Unfortunately for Zacchaeus, his physical condition leaves him at a disadvantage in the large crowd. Everyone else’s view was obstructing his view.
Often times our view of Christ is obstructed because of someone else’s view
This is where many believers are trapped. Their view of Christ is limited because of the view of someone else. You can’t see Jesus through another’s eyes. You have to see Him for yourself! Yes there is great benefit to hearing what your pastor, or other saints have to say about Jesus… but in the end, you have to see Jesus for yourself. You have to get in His book, spend time in His presence so that you can answer the same question Jesus asked his disciples, “who do you say that I am?”
The Second… What You Say
Another problem for Zacchaeus wasn’t the crowd, but his own physical limitations. Surely Zacchaeus got to the road side, and started trying to press in, perhaps he stood on his tip toes. But for all this trying to see Jesus – his own perspective was a limiting factor. This might have caused Zacchaeus to begin to focus on himself thinking, “I’m too small. No one cares enough about me to let me through. If only I was more like that guy.”
“When i focus on who i am, i will miss who He is”
I have learned through my own experience that when I am consumed with myself, it’s hard to see anyone else. When you focus on how big or how small you are you’ll miss how great He is. Yes your thoughts are important, but make sure they are founded on proper truth. First the truth about who He is, then the truth about who you are.
The Third… What He Says
Zacchaeus made a life changing decision. He chose not to let others view, or even his own view become a limiting factor. He made the choice to rise above all of that and change his perspective. He climbed higher to see Jesus.
“When I get a proper view of Jesus, I Get a proper view of me”
This Changed Everything!!! Zacchaeus was a lowly man, small in the worlds eyes, small in his own eyes… yet because he was willing to get a proper view of Christ, suddenly he came into view. Zacchaeus’ life was changed, not because of everyone else, or even himself, but because he was able to clearly see Jesus.
This is the position and the perspective that you and I have to obtain. We have to rise above the views, opinions, and even criticisms of others. We have to rise above our own limitations. The only way to do that, is to simply get a proper view of Jesus. See Him as He is, not as we want Him to be. Search out His word to get a clear picture of His truth. When we are willing to do this two things will happen.
- Other’s will challenge us
- Jesus will bring eternal life into our home.
When Zacchaeus saw Jesus, Jesus saw Zacchaeus and came to him. He is always looking for those, who are looking for Him. It was here that Jesus invited himself over to Zacchaeus’ house. Immediately the crowd began to criticize calling Zacchaeus a sinner (remember the views of others are limited factors.) Zacchaeus began to hear those criticisms and began to defend himself to Jesus (our view of ourself is a limiting factor). But Jesus didn’t pay any attention to either the crowd or Zacchaeus. He simply spoke truth, “Today salvation has come to your house.”
The only way you and I will ever truly see ourselves for who we are begins with first seeing Jesus. He is the One in whom all things were created. He is the one in whom all things are held together. He is the one in who we live and breathe and find our being. Life in all it’s fullness is found in him. This is what awaits those willing to change their perspective to get a proper view of Jesus.