Summary: This first person narrative makes Zacchaeus out to be a bitter little man who finds himself all alone and his life is forever changed by the kindness and forgiveness offered by Jesus
On the Road with Jesus: Zacchaeus
March 31, 2019
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. It all started when he raised Lazarus from the dead. This was obviously no small thing and many people were coming over to the teachings of Jesus. Many were claiming that Jesus could be the Messiah.
The religious leaders had decided that because so many were coming to Jesus that rather than recognizing the same thing, they were now looking at Jesus as a threat. After raising Lazarus, Jesus went north and that is when we heard from the one leper who was healed and came back to say thank you to Jesus and his faith saved him and the rich young ruler who couldn’t give up his possessions to follow Jesus.
In order to get to Jerusalem, Jesus would need to go through the city of Jericho. Jericho is a multicultural city. It is a center of commerce and trade. It is in this city of Jericho that there is a man by the name of Zaccheaus. Zacchaeus is a tax collector and is not well liked.
As we hear from Zacchaeus know that some creative liberties have been taken. Please read the story in it's entirety from Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus begins to speak:
I’m so glad you all sat down because before I was having trouble seeing everything. I am what you called vertically challenged or I guess you could just say that I’m short.
For those of you who share this same fate you know what I’m talking about. I’ve always been on the smaller side of life. My parents are short, in fact most of my family heritage is short and so as much as I hoped I’d somehow inherit some long lost height gene, well I didn’t.
I would have settled for even being average height. I was always shorter and smaller than other kids my age. When a bunch of us would gather to play games I would usually get picked last. No one wanted the little shrimp on their team.
My legs were short and so I couldn’t jump as high or run as fast as the other kids. Most of the time people thought I was a couple of years younger than I actually was. My parents just laughed about it and told me that I would get used to it.
Easy for them to say. Yet, I couldn’t always understand how they could have such a positive outlook on things. My parents were humble people of little means. We never had much but always seemed to have just enough to get by.
My father was a hard worker and did his best to provide for his family. My mother was extremely resourceful. We would wear our clothes until they were thread bare and full of holes. It didn’t bother me when I was younger but as I got older, well, kids can be cruel.
It was bad enough that they made fun of me for being small but they just piled on about being poor and such. It was so embarrassing and so infuriating. My parents just said that happiness wasn’t based on one’s wealth.
I wasn’t so sure. Being poor was no picnic. The rich seemed to be so much happier. You might even say that they were blessed and we seemed to be cursed. They always went for worship at the synagogue and made pilgrimages to Jerusalem when they could. They always gave praise to God. Their optimism even showed in the name they gave me, Zaccheaus which means – clean, innocent, pure & righteous
I didn’t quite understand their faith in Yahweh. If he was such a good God and my parents were so faithful then why didn’t we have more? Our religious system was okay. I learned all about it as a boy in the synagogue. I learned about the laws of Moses. I learned about the history of our people. I learned about the promised Messiah.
That was one of the things I was good at. I could learn things. I found I was good with numbers. I was good with facts and others weren’t.
One day of one of the boys asked if he could borrow some money. I told him only if he paid me back with interest, to which he agreed. A couple of days later he came to pay be back and he pulled some coins out and asked how much he owed. I took more than I told him I’d charge simply because he didn’t know any better.
As I look back on things that I guess is how it all started. You see I was tired of being picked on and I was tired of being poor. I didn’t like being made fun of. People with money, they were important. Nobody picked on them. People with money had power. I wanted all of that.