At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”
How easy is it to say, “Oh this story. I’ve heard this one” and begin tuning out, making a grocery list, thinking about what needs to be done for Monday? How about if we look at it differently?
Jesus goes to Jericho planning to pass through it. Jericho was a place of sin. We all have places of sin inside of us. The chief tax collector, Zacchaeus, climbed a tree in order to see Jesus better. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, which probably means he was middle-aged. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely getting too old to climb any trees. Climbing a tree was probably a very difficult feat for him.
Who was Zacchaeus? A chief tax collector, a sinner. He could be any one of us. We are all sinners, all bedeviled by something, some power other than God. We can identify with Zacchaeus.
Despite his wickedness, something lured Zacchaeus in Jesus’ direction. Maybe it was dissatisfaction with his life; maybe it was a growing realization that while he was richer, he was not happier.
So he climbs that tree. How about me? Am I willing to go out on a limb to get a better look at Jesus? All Jesus needs is the smallest move on our part. As soon as we do, He’s ready. “Zacchaeus, come down quickly. I must stay at your house.”
Jesus wants to stay in our soul. He wants to move into our lives, our souls, all of us, public and private, friendships, marriage, job, relationships.
What happens after Jesus moves in? Zacchaeus says he will give away half of his possessions and pay back four times anybody.
When Grace pours in, love pours out. This is the very definition of salvation. “Today salvation has come to this house.”
Are you ready to go out on that limb? This Advent, are you going to climb that tree to see Jesus? Are you going to invite Him to not just visit but move in and stay? All it takes is that first step.