In the book of Luke, there is a story about a man named Zacchaeus. It might be easy to quickly read this story and move on. But I think if we spend some time here, we might discover some key takeaways for our own lives.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
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.”
– Luke 19:1-10
Let’s dig a little into this story…
1 – [Zacchaeus] wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
This part of the story makes me wonder – do we try this hard to seek Jesus? Do we do everything in our power to spend time with Him and soak up His presence? Do we try to seek His face every day?
I fear that we have many missed opportunities to seek Jesus. We are too distracted or too busy or just plain apathetic. Personally, I don’t want the wonder and awe of the Lord to be lost on me. Every day of our lives we get to have a relationship with the King of kings!
This means we have to make an effort every day to spend time with Him. The enemy might try to plant excuses in our minds about why we don’t have time today. However, I really believe we need to be intentional with our time, despite our feelings.
When we make an effort to be with Jesus, little by little, we will discover a love that is immeasurable. We will find the only One who can love us unconditionally. And we will be amazed by “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” (Eph 3:18)
But even more than that, we will find we have a trustworthy Friend who is with us every moment of every day. We will know that we can rely on the Lord and His strength, no matter what we are facing. What a comfort that brings!
2 – Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Note that during Jesus’ time, tax collectors were generally not liked. And as you can see in this verse, it was implied that Zacchaeus cheated the people. This was the norm for many tax collectors of his day.
But after spending time with Jesus, Zacchaeus was a changed man!
We might spend time with Jesus daily, reading our Bibles, and praying. But do we allow His presence in our lives to change us from the inside out? Or perhaps when we first became Christians did we appear to be on fire for God, but now our devotion has waned?
There are many out there who are just going through the motions of life. They checked off their Christian duties for the day, but they forget about Jesus during the remainder of the day. They grabbed their ticket to heaven, but they live life with worldly pleasure. They are the god of their own lives.
Truly when we become Christians, it is important to learn to fully surrender to the Lord. Seek His face daily. And allow Him to mold us and change us.
Maybe you wonder what is the point? Why can’t I have fun and do things my way?
First, Jesus did so much for us. Our hearts should want to live for Him in return. As I heard a pastor say once, “God owes you nothing. But you owe Him everything.”
Also, God has our best interest in mind. So when we learn to live life with Him as our Lord, we will find peace and joy. And we will save ourselves from a lot of heartache when we place our lives in the hands of the only One who is forever trustworthy and faithful.
We have so many blessings and so much beauty in the world around us. When we give the Lord our whole heart, it will open our eyes to the amazing things God does for us. Every day He is looking out for us, protecting us, and caring for us. I don’t want to forget that or take it for granted.
May we learn to seek Jesus with fervor, every day. And may we allow Him to change us and mold us daily. In the end, we will find true contentment and fulfillment in life.