Summary: Aren’t we all a bit desperate for God?
“Desperate For God”
Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Master passed that way, He looked up in the tree.
And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down. For I’m going to your house today.”
How many of us remember singing that song as children?
It’s a cute song and a good way to remember a Bible story, but there are a number of details about Zacchaeus that this song does not include.
For one thing, Zacchaeus was a chief among tax collectors, and I’m sure his parents never would have dreamed that he would turn out the way he did.
You know why?
Because his name means “Pure” or “Righteous”
He was given that name as a baby.
His mother and father looked down upon him and thought he was the most precious little fellow in the world…so they named him “Pure.”
They knew and believed that God had great plans for his life so they named him “Righteous.”
And I would imagine that Zacchaeus’ parents probably did the best they could to help him to live into his name.
They probably took him to the Temple.
They probably taught him about God and maybe the Scriptures.
They probably loved him so very much.
And through there showing an unconditional love for him…
…I would imagine that Zacchaeus was given just a little glimpse of the kind of love that God has for all people—including himself.
But as Zacchaeus began
to grow up he probably found that he was not growing as fast nor as tall as his peers.
The word that is used for “short” in this passage literally means “an adult who has not grown out of a child’s body.”
So Zacchaeus was probably quite troubled…perhaps even tormented by this.
He probably had what many people refer to as “a Napoleon Complex.”
He felt insecure about his size, and therefore felt that he had to prove just how big, and tough and unafraid he was by other means.
He was probably made fun of at school, and perhaps he ended up getting into a lot of fights because of that.
Or maybe he just got beat up…and led a very lonely, isolated and ostrasized existence.
He probably never had many friends…
…not that he could have had friends…
…but his lack of self-esteem probably caused him to push potential friends away.
He had been hurt one too many times.
So he built walls of protection up between himself and others.
And people stayed away.
The walls worked.
But behind those walls was a desperately lonely and self-hating man who wanted nothing more than to be loved, accepted and understood.
How many of us can relate to Zaccaeus’ predicament?
When we see some of the youngsters who wear all-black…
…walking around with all kinds of piercings in all kinds of places…
…when we see these often sad looking and sometimes intimidating looking kids…
…let’s remember that behind all that black there is most likely a person who wants desperately to be loved, to be understood, but has been hurt way too many times.
So one night when the Roman occupation came to Zacchaeus with an offer…
…an offer to be somebody…
…a job offer as a tax man Zacchaeus faced a tough, but inevitable decision—whether or not to sell-out to Rome.
As a tax collector he would have to pay Rome a certain amount for his territory…and then, of course, he would get rich by charging people for more taxes than they really owed.
This would mean that Zacchaeus would collect taxes from a widow who wouldn’t have enough to pay…and therefore put her out of her house…
…yes, he would have to rob, cheat and steal from many persons.
He would also have to give up his religion.
He would no longer have access to the Temple…
…and he would be hated…
…not just shunned or misunderstood…
…but…but he would be rich.
So, Zacchaeus chose to be rich.
But he would have something, wouldn’t he?
He would hold power…power that he never had before…power over other people’s lives.
But this power, this money didn’t make Zacchaeus feel any better about life than he had before.
He was still miserable.
He still knew that he was lacking that love that his parents first introduced him to as a young child.
He knew he was not living the life he had been created to live.
He knew that he was not being the person that he really was and was capable of being.
And so he was desperate. Desperate for God.
So here we have Zacchaeus…
…he is rich, but lonely and hated…