Jump Start #3319
Jump Start # 3319
Luke 19:4 “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.”
Little Zaccheus, the wee little man, who climbed up in a sycamore tree. What a pleasant story that is. Much too often, that simple story is left for children’s classes. There are profound and powerful lessons for all of us to see here. In Zaccheus we find some qualities that would do well to be in each of us. The church would be a bit better if it had some Zaccheus in it today.
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. He has an appointment with the cross. The time had come. The hour was near. All Heaven must have been watching. Satan, likely held his breath. The moment he had been waiting for was now upon them. As Jesus travels through Jericho, just a short distance from Jerusalem, the crowds gathered. We remember, as the Lord enters Jerusalem, it is referred to as the “triumphal entry.” Crowds line the streets. Palm branches cover the path. But, here in Jericho, another crowd has assembled.
Our wee little man, Zaccheus, hears that Jesus is passing through. He wants to see Jesus. Maybe he has heard about Matthew, one of the chosen, a tax collector. Could it be that Zaccheus, being a chief tax collector, had Matthew working for him? Jesus had been in the home of a tax-collector. Jewish rabbis didn’t do that. Tax collectors were the worst in the eyes of Jews. But, this rabbi, Jesus, was so different. Zaccheus just wanted to see.
Four powerful impressions come from this:
First, Zaccheus was curious. Curiosity is a good thing. It makes us run down facts and chase ideas and do deep thinking and deep studying. The Psalmist often talked about the awe of God. I wonder if we’ve gotten so set in our routines that we are no longer curious about the Lord.
The text, our verse, tells us that the little tax collector ran on ahead. That’s a sight! Most didn’t run back in those days unless the house was on fire or a lion was chasing them. It’s not uncommon to see folks running in the neighborhood these days. But back then, what a sight to see. And, of all people, that tax collector. Where was he going, people must have thought? What’s his big hurry? He wanted to see Jesus. Love that spirit. Would love to see people hurrying to worship rather than dragging in late as if they are headed for a root canal. He wanted to see Jesus.
Second, Zaccheus was more than determined. He had a problem. He couldn’t see. He was short. And, you can just about expect, as the crowds lined the streets, that no one was going to make room for a tax collector. Jesus was passing by and he would have missed Him. So close, but nothing. So, our wee little man not only ran on ahead, but he climbed up in a tree to see. Now no one would be blocking the view. Now he could see.
He was determined. Nothing was going to stop him. Satan will throw obstacles your way to keep you from seeing Jesus. Kids have the ball games. Have to work late. Company coming in. Determined. I’m going to be with Jesus. Do you think it would have been embarrassing to climb a tree? Would we have stood in the crowd but gone home thinking, “I tried to see Jesus, but just couldn’t.” Not our little Zaccheus. His mind was made up and he was going to see Jesus. Love that spirit. Love that determination.
Third, Zaccheus was more than enthusiastic. Jesus stopped at the very tree where Zaccheus was. Were there others in nearby trees? We don’t know. But this one tree, Jesus stopped. He did more than just look up and see Zaccheus. He called him by name. Zaccheus must have thought, “How did He know my name? We have never met?” Jesus did more than just call out his name. The Lord told him to come down.
The text tells us that Zaccheus “hurried and came down.” It’s a lot easier coming down from a tree than it is going up. He didn’t hesitate. He hurried. Jesus wanted to talk to him. The spirit of enthusiasm. He was excited. He wanted to talk to Jesus. Now, he was getting more than he ever expected. He was hoping just to see Jesus walk by. But now, he was going to be in a conversation with Jesus. Oh, the spirit of enthusiasm. We might call it passion. Passionate prayers. Passionate singing. Passionate preaching. A people who are passionate about Jesus. Tired and worn out and rather be some where else is much too often the norm for some places of worship. What’s missing is passion. Zeal. Excited.
Fourth, Zaccheus was more than receptive of the Lord. He came down that tree and received Jesus “gladly” the context tells us. He wasn’t embarrassed. He wasn’t ashamed. He didn’t make excuses. The Lord had invited Himself to Zaccheus’ home. This is one of the few times Jesus invited Himself. The tax collector didn’t say, “My house is small,” or, “the place is a mess.” What he said was spoken from a penitent heart. I will repay, I will make right, I will do good. He was a changed man.
Did Zaccheus know about the sermon on the mount? Did he know about the feeding of the five thousand? Did he know about the prophecies concerning the death of Jesus? Good chance he didn’t. He knew Jesus wanted to come to his home. Jesus, on a time table with the cross, made one more stop, to open the heart of a tax collector. Jesus cared to the very end.
Curiosity…determination…enthusiasm…reception—when that fills the air of the church house, great things take place. Don’t wait for someone else to bring those, you bring them. Don’t wait for someone else to start things, you start them.
A wee little man up in a tree, came down a big, big believer in Jesus. It wasn’t miracles. It wasn’t prophecies. It was compassion, kindness and taking some time for someone who didn’t deserve it. Those are the very things that you and I can do. Slow down and help others. Notice who is up in trees looking.
Great reminders for us from long ago.