Summary: We will look at how Zacchaeus the Tax Collector repsonded when he encountered Jesus. This will also force us to consdier how we should respond when we encounter Jesus through His Word.
“Encounters with Jesus: A Tax Collector”
Whenever the President and his motorcade drive through a town people line the streets to see him drive by. People come from miles away just to wave to the president. I remember seeing videos of John Kennedy before his assassination. People lined the streets for miles just to see the president of the United States.
I imagine the scene was very similar when Jesus walked through the city of Jericho a week before his death. The streets were lined with people who wanted to see Jesus. During this time in his life Jesus was extremely popular. Remember after he walked through Jericho and headed up to Jerusalem, was what is called the triumphal entry.
Among the crowds in Jericho to see Jesus was a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus. He simply wanted to see Jesus. This encounter that Jesus had with Zacchaeus was one of the greatest encounters that is recorded in scriptures. We learn here how Jesus loves people so much and wants more than anything to have a relationship with all people.
Many of you probably remember from years ago the story of Zacchaeus and may remember singing about this man.
Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
A wee little man was he,
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see;
And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in the tree,
And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down,
For I’m going to your house today,
For I’m going to your house today.
When Jesus saw Zacchaeus he was headed to Jerusalem to face his death. I love how Jesus dealt with this little IRS agent. He spoke with such love and compassion, saying he must go to his house today. The amazing thing about that story is that Jesus knew who Zacchaeus was. He knew his name, he knew everything about us. Jesus in the same way knows us each individually. I do not know how it is possible for Him to know everyone’s name, what we all have done, and what we all think, but he does. I believe that is because Jesus cares for us each as individuals, he wants us all to come to know him and to be his disciples.
Zacchaeus went out of his way to see Jesus, what would you do thought o see Jesus?
I. The Desire
Zacchaeus had a great desire to see Jesus. He wanted more than anything else to see who this Jesus was. I am sure that he had heard a lot about Jesus and wanted to see him for himself. He did not simply want to see what Jesus looked like, he didn’t just want to get a glance at him, he wanted to see why Jesus was so different from everyone else. Perhaps he expected to see Jesus wearing gold and diamonds and a kingly robe. Perhaps he expected to see a mighty warrior or fighter, but he didn’t see all that. When he saw Jesus though he knew he was different. Why? Because of the love and the compassion that was clear in his eyes, by the authority in which he spoke. He had such a great desire to just see Jesus that he climbed up into a tree.
How much desire do you have to see Jesus? What would you do to see him? We live in a time in which we do not have the promise to see Jesus personally face to face while we live here on Earth. We will not see Jesus walking down the street, but we can still see Jesus in many ways today.