Summary: How big are we? This doesn’t mean how big are we in a physical way. How big are we spiritually? Are we big enough to be a person that God can use?
In 1988 Tom Hanks stared in a wonderful movie titled Big, though Hanks is not the main character, Josh, at the beginning or the end of the movie, he is for most of the picture. David Moscow plays Josh at the beginning and end and wants more than anything to be “big.” The boy is at a fair and drops a quarter in a machine that is supposed to grant his wish. When he does, nothing happens, at least not at that moment.
When Josh wakes up the next morning, he hops down out of the top bunk, wearing nothing but his super-hero underwear, unaware that anything has changed in his life. He feels no different, he thinks no different. Everything seems the same, until he looks in the mirror and discovers that he is not the same kid that went to bed the night before. Now he is big.
His immediate reaction is one of fear. The same could be said of his mother’s only reaction. She thinks that Hanks has taken her son. His best friend Billy is the only person who realizes that Hanks is still his old friend.
Throughout all but the last five minutes of the movie we follow Hanks’ adventures as a boy in a man’s suit. In many ways nothing in this character’s life has changed, at the same time everything in his life has changed. Physically his life has changed. Everyone around him except Billy sees him as an adult and treats him that way. Yet his appearance is the only thing that has changed. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually, Josh is still a boy.
II What we see that changed in Josh’s life is the very thing that is least important in life, appearance. We come to understand that as we read and study Scripture. We read again and again of matters of the heart. When God was about to have Samuel anoint David to be King of Israel, David’s oldest brother, a tall good-looking man first comes by Samuel and Samuel is ready to make Abinadab king. But God scolds Samuel telling him that he is looking at the outside, what is most important is what is in the heart. If we read further we find Jesus talking about looks and later still, Paul.
It seems to me that we can’t rush getting big. It is every kid’s dream to hurry up and get big. They want to hurry up and get to be 10, double digits in age. Then it is thirteen so they can be a teenager. Then 16 to drive and 18 when you can vote and you are an adult.
Yet all of those things are the very things that God is warning Samuel against, they involve the outward. They are all getting physically big.
III Our lesson this morning is the story of one who probably wanted to get physically big. Zaccheus, Scripture tells us, though a grown man, was a man of small stature. I still remember when I was a kid singing, “Zaccheus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree to see what he could see.”
But I would submit to you this morning that while Zaccheus was a wee little man, in stature, he was also a wee little man emotionally and spiritually. I believe that because before the encounter that is our lesson this morning Zaccheus was all about what he could get from life. We see it in his profession and we see it in his climbing the tree to see Jesus.
Zaccheus was like so many people in our society today who live out their lives looking only at what is best for them. They take from others in a vain effort to better themselves. Zaccheus was a Roman tax collector. The Jews hated tax collectors period. TO start with, all Roman coins had Caesar’s image on them. The Roman’s considered Caesar a god, so to have a Roman coin in one’s possession was to have a graven image, a violation of law.
At the same time Roman money was also legal currency and the Jews used it to survive. And, like any of us, they wanted to have at least enough money to live comfortably, and they wanted to pay as little tax as possible.
The Roman system made that idea difficult. The government would hire tax collectors and they were told to get at least a required amount of money from each person. What the government did not do, however, was pay tax collectors. Tax collectors were free to get however much they could out of people. What was in excess of the requirement they got to keep. This made the tax collector a legal thief. To make matters worse, tax collectors who collected from Jews were Jews themselves. The people saw it as Jews stealing from Jews. And, to a great degree they were right.