Summary: God knows where you are, He knows who you are and He knows what your need is and He is able to supply that need if you will respond to Him when He comes calling.
God cares enough about you to go off the beaten path in order to meet you and set up a meeting with you. cf the Samaritan Woman ...and He must needs go through Samaria.
Luke 19:2-9, "And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham."
Zacchaeus was determined to see Jesus because he must have heard something about Him. Whatever he heard stirred his inner longing. There must have been something he heard about Jesus that related to his needs.
1. THE CHARACTER CALLED ZACCHAEUS
a. Chief among the publicans (tax collectors).
c. Short in stature, not in brains.
d. Disliked by the people (evidenced by the murmurs when Jesus went with him).
This extract gives a singular glimpse into the character of someone like Zacchaeus:
“He was a leader of the publicans -"the chief among publicans."
For a more successful levying of taxes by the Romans, the institution of the publicans was introduced, which had existed in Rome since ancient times. But while in Rome and throughout Italy publicans were recruited from an esteemed warrior class, in Judea the Romans were forced to engage publicans from the moral outcasts, from among Jews that agreed to go over to work for them and force their brothers to pay tribute.
The acceptance of such a position was bound up with a most profound moral fall. It was bound not only with national, but, above all, religious betrayal: to become a tool for the subjugation of the divinely chosen people by coarse pagans, one had to deny the hopes of Israel, everything holy to it, its dreams, and -- what is more -- since the Romans did not take into account the spiritual tribulation of their agents, upon accepting his position a publican had to swear a pagan oath of fidelity to the emperor, and bring pagan sacrifices to his spirit (the genius of the emperor). Of course the publicans served not only Rome's interests, levying taxes upon their own country men, but pursuing their own greedy goals and becoming wealthy at the expense of their subjugated brothers, they made the yoke of Roman oppression felt even more, and still more difficult to bear. This is who the publicans were. This is why they were surrounded by justifiable hatred and scorn; as betrayers of their people, having betrayed not only their people but a divinely-chosen one, God's tool in the world, the only people through which rebirth and salvation could come to mankind.
Everything said above pertains to Zacchaeus in the highest degree, because he was not a run-of-the-mill publican, but a chief among publicans - an architelonis. Without a doubt he had done everything: brought pagan sacrifices and sworn a pagan oath, mercilessly forced taxes from his brothers, increasing them to his own advantage. And he became, as the Gospel witnesses, a rich man.” (Saint John of Shanghai)
e. Determined and resourceful (looked for solutions to his problems).
f. Ready to accept the Lord.
g. Humble in his obedience.
2. THE CRISIS ZACCHAEUS FACED
a. Zacchaeus had a need.
b. He had a handicap (his stature).
c. He had an obstacle (the crowd).
d. He needed to react appropriately.
“Of course Zacchaeus understood clearly that the hopes of Israel were lost to him. Everything foretold by the prophets, beloved from childhood, that at which every believing Old Testament soul trembled joyfully, was not for him. He was a traitor, a betrayer, a cast-off. He had no part in Israel. And now rumors reached him that the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah announced by the prophets, has already appeared in the world, and together with a small group of disciples is walking the fields of Galilee and Judea, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and working great miracles. Joyous hopes are ignited with trembling in believing hearts. How will Zacchaeus react to this? For him personally, the coming of the Messiah is a catastrophe. The rule of Rome must come to an end, and the triumphant Israel will, of course, take revenge for the losses suffered because of him, for the offences and oppressions that were his fault. But even if this is not so, for the Messiah, as the prophet witnessed, comes as a righteous one, bringing salvation as a meek one (cf. Zech. 9:9), the triumph of the Messiah must bring to him, to Zacchaeus, only the greatest shame and the loss of all the wealth and of the position he acquired at the frightening price of his treachery before God, his own people, and all the hopes of Israel.” (Saint John of Shanghai)