Summary: Have we dined with Jesus?
“I want to see Jesus!”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
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.”
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.”
When he grew up, I would imagine that there was a lot of fun in Jericho when he was called by his name.
They would say, “Hello, Pure.”
“What a name for a tax collector!”
See, one dark night Zacchaus had a decision to make—whether or not he would 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…
…but he would be rich.
So, Zacchaeus chose to be rich.
How many folks are like Zacchaeus today?
How many folks have made the decision to sell their very souls for the world’s wealth…
…only to find that all the money in the world does not satisfy their needs?
So here we have Zacchaeus…
…he is rich, but lonely and hated…
…he is wealthy, but spiritually impoverished…
…and he knows it.
Remember the first thing Jesus said during the Sermon on the Mount?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
J.B. Phillips, a man who translated the New Testament into Modern English, puts it this way:
“Happy are those who understand their spiritual poverty. They have already entered the Kingdom of Reality.”
So Zachaeus, the tax collector understands that his life is not complete…something is missing…something VERY BIG and VERY IMPORTANT IS MISSING!
Do any of us feel as if something VERY BIG AND VERY IMPORTANT IS MISSING in our lives this morning?
If so, you may be like Zacchaeus, a person in search of God.
No doubt Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus, and he had probably heard what people were saying everywhere about Jesus: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Let’s hope and pray that the same is said about us!
So when Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was passing through Jericho, he wanted to see Jesus!…
…and he wanted to see Jesus so badly that he “ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him…”
I’ve been told that a sycamore tree has a slick bark, and it is always a long way to the first limb.
So this is a difficult tree to climb.
Therefore, Zacchaeus sweated it out but he finally got up the tree and settled down on a limb among the leaves.
He probably thought that he was secluded there—like he had his own private box for a parade.
And so he waited for Jesus, and sure enough Jesus came by…
…and much to Zacchaeus’ surprise…Jesus knew Zacchaeus was in that tree.
As a matter of fact, Jesus knew everything there is to know about Zacchaeus.
He knew that he was one of the lost sheep.
He knew that he was not living the kind of life that God had created him to live.
And He knew that Zacchaeus was an outcaste, a lonely and hated man…
…in search of something which would make him feel like a real human being again.
Remember another thing that Jesus said during His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
So Jesus reaches the spot where this spiritually impoverished man is hiding in a sycamore tree…knowing that this man is hungering and thirsting for righteousness.
Jesus said to him: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
And what did Zacchaeus do?
“he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”
And that is all he had to do.
Jesus did not force Himself into Zacchaeus’ home, but He certainly did ask him for a welcome.
And this is what Jesus is doing for all of us: “Here I am!” Jesus declares in Revelation Chapter 3, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”