Jump Start # 3122
Luke 19:3 “Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.”
I love the story of Zaccheus, the wee little man who climbed up in a sycamore tree. It is so easy for us to leave this for the children. We have a children’s song that tells this story. We use this text in VBS. And, what happens so often is that we do not see very many deep lessons for us. They are here. We must lower our nets and find them.
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. He has an appointment with the Cross. He will die and then be resurrected. He is fully aware of all of these things. On the way through Jericho, a crowd has gathered. Jesus, the miracle worker. Jesus, the teacher. People want to see Him. We can just hear the shouts, “There He is!” Or, “Jesus, look over here.” Today, the cell phone would be held high in the air as everyone would try to get a picture. Some would likely jump out in front to get a selfie with Jesus. And, our little Zaccheus does not have a front row seat. He can’t see. He’s likely jumping up and down and getting frustrated. Because of who he is, a chief tax collector, most in the crowd would not step aside for him. Not him. Not Zacchaeus. So, he runs ahead and climbs a tree. Jesus stops, calls him by name and invites Himself to his home.
Luke ends this section with these words from Jesus, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” This was Jesus’ response to the grumbling crowd. The crowd didn’t like the idea that Jesus was going home with “one of them,” a tax collector. Pulling from Jesus’ final statement here, Zaccheus was lost. Now, Zaccheus was saved. The Lord did more than have a conversation and a visit, He saved Zaccheus.
Our verse has an incredible lesson for us. Zaccheus could not see Jesus. He was unable because of the crowd. And, right there, is a powerful lesson for us. Could it be that others cannot see Jesus because of us? Our family. Our co-workers. Our friends. How is that possible?
First, our attitudes and opinions may be keeping people from seeing Jesus. We can be too obsessed with politics. With politics, much too often, comes complaining. We gripe about gas prices. We grip about empty shelves at the store. We gripe about how different things are these days. And, very possibly, those around us cannot see Jesus. All they see is a grumpy, miserable person who fails to count his blessings and is more caught up in this world than the next world.
Three things will help us here. First, park the nightly news. Most times, it’s bad news anyway. Most times, it puts us in a bad mood. So, let it be. Second, do a little stroll down history lane. Wars. Recessions. Depressions. Storms. Hard times. Nothing new. They plagued our parents world. They plagued our grand parents world. Take a look through your Bible. Babies are killed. Towers fall. The righteous are persecuted. Some are beheaded. Some put in prison. Some in lion’s dens. What we are going through is nothing new. Third, let’s look to our blessings. God is still there. We are still in the kingdom. God’s promises are still alive and working. God’s word remains true. A little perspective helps us.
Second, our walk with Jesus can keep others from seeing the Lord. Some walk a wiggly line, in and out of the kingdom and in and out of the world. Some are inconsistent in their walk. They run hot and then they run cold. We can talk a good game, but it’s the doing part that people really notice. They’ll remember if you checked on them when they were hurting. They’ll remember whether you were generous or not. They’ll remember your words. They’ll remember your compassion. There is no question that Jesus loves. The Bible states that and the cross proves that. However, some may wonder whether or not Jesus’ church loves. Are we standing in the way and people cannot see Jesus because of us?
Third, we may block some people from Jesus on purpose. Some are just different than the rest of us. Some are not like us. So, rather than being inviting, we tighten the circle and do not allow others to enter. We keep them at a distance because their lives are messy. Their choices have all been wrong. They are worldly. Yet, isn’t that Zaccheus? Isn’t that exactly who Jesus said He came for, the lost? We must remember that we are not charter members in the kingdom and we do not get to vote upon who is allowed in and who is not. That’s all up to God.
What a sad, sad reality that someone could not see Jesus because of us. They wanted to, but we ruined it for them. They tried, but we stood in the way. From the way we welcome and greet people, to how our services open, to the sermons we preach, we must welcome the world. There ought to be a place for everyone and anyone.
The wee little man had a great big problem. He couldn’t see Jesus.