Summary: Zacchaeus’s encounter with Christ is a gift of acceptance.
I have had the privilege this morning of meeting many new people, and that is very encouraging. God has a way of bringing people together for the good. Chance meetings can have a way of opening up new possibilities. Think about it. When you first met your spouse did you think “this is the one” or did you say “who is this?” Was there a good hearted matchmaker involved? Who are the individuals who helped you in your career, who listened, advised, directed and supported you
Sometimes even one brief conversation can set your life going in a whole different direction. Alfred Adler was a young psychoanalyst when he had the opportunity to be in Vienna for a conference. While he was there he plucked up the courage to ask Sigmund Freud, already famous as the father of psychoanalysis,for a meeting. Adler arrived at Freud’s office at the appointed time and was ushered into his counseling room. He was a bit nervous and wanted to break the ice so he began to tell Freud about a young mother and her son he had noticed on the trolley
Adler describe how the woman was harried and frustrated, and was chiding her son to behave. Freud let him talk for several minutes until Adler fell silent. Then he leveled a look at Adler and said “And tell me, are you that boy?” Adler was so turned off by Freud’s response that he decided right then and there that psychoanalysis was mistaken, and went on to develop his own psychological theory and practice which became the basis of the social psychology we use today.
This story highlights the impact that one single meeting, one brief exchange can have for us. How God works with us to move us to new life. It is this type of encounter we find in Scripture today. We don’t know much about Zacchaeus. We know he was short, we know he was rich, we know he was a chief tax collector. But most importantly we know he was bound and determined to meet Jesus. He took great pains to see him. Talking to someone who knew someone who knew Jesus wasn’t enough, Being one of the crowd that followed Jesus wasn’t enough... Nothing was going to satisfy him except seeing Jesus if only from the top of a tree. Why was it so important to Zacchaeus to see Jesus? Because Jesus had a reputation that was important to Zacchaeus Jesus was a friend of publicans and tax-collectors. Believe me being a tax-collector in those days was not an easy thing. We have seen in our own government problems with the tax system. There are annual quotas for monetary penalties to be collected and for the number of offenders who are to be prosecuted. Yet there are so many loopholes that a select group of people can pilot their yachts through the tax laws all the way to their summer estates. Now we are trying to hold the IRS accountable for its offenses, but back in ancient Israel corruption was the standard operating procedure for the entire system.
Let me see if I can explain it to you. The king decided how much money he wanted and collected it directly from his noblemen, they in turn, recovered the money plus their fair share from their chief collectors who, in turn, recouped their losses from the local collectors, plus their percentage and self-determined salary who then recouped their losses, plus their salary and percentage from the common man. A very difficult process if you were the common man! But if you were a part of the system, it wasn’t too bad. The higher the rank, the deeper your pockets and the deeper into the scheme you went. So Zacchaeus - an Israelite - was the chief headhunter for the Roman occupation and oppression of Israel. Knowing all this about him how many friends do you think he had? How well do you think he was received by his countrymen? He would have been judged as both immoral and traitorous. A SINNER according to the crowd in verse 7, And a sinner was someonebeyond the scope of God’s grace or Israel’s concern.
But now here is someone- Jesus - with a reputation for befriending the likes of corrupt henchmen, for offering restoration to the rejected. This guy Zacchaeus just had to see, no matter what he had to do to get to him. And Jesus just had to see Zacchaeus. Something about Zacchaeus so impressed Jesus that he became as intent on seeing and knowing and befriending Zacchaeus, as Zacchaeus had hoped and longed to see the man who was said to know and befriend sinners. Have you ever been impressed like that, where you meet someone briefly and say, “I have just got to get to know you.” Where you hope to become a friend just because you see something special in that person’s spirit? Have you ever thought that you could impress God that way? To hear that divine voice say “I have got to get to know you.” Funny thought isn’t it. God being compelled to know us. Yet its true,