Summary: So we see an extraordinary parallel. For Zacchaeus stands up and makes the pronoucement, (if you will permit a paraphrase) “I surrender all that I have to own you.” And Jesus, reply is similar, “I surrender all that I am to make you mine.”
Introduction: What would you do if you knew you had less than two weeks to live? Less than two weeks to accomplish anything of significance in life? Less than two weeks to spend with loved ones? Less than two weeks?
Today is Palm Sunday. A day when we normally remember the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem to the sound of a cheering throng of smiling faces. A day when he was welcomed with jubiliant shouts of Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, blessed be the Son of David. But today we are going to back up a couple of days. To meet the Lord at the second last dinner recorded in scripture. A supper that took place with less than two weeks left in the life of our beloved Saviour.
“Once more, and now for the last time, were the ford of Jordan passed, and Christ was on the soil of Judea proper. Behind him were Perea and Galilee; behind Hime the Ministry of the Gospel by word and deed; before him the final act of His life, toward which all had consciously tended.” (Edersheim)
So to Jericho he came. Jericho, the famous perfumed city, renouned the world over for its Balsam from which was made the famous perfume. It is said that the sweet scent hung in the air even miles away from the fortified city. Here the palm trees grew in abundance, the air was always warm and the streets overhung with spreading trees. Here, in this city, dwelt more than half of the Priests actively serving in the Temple at Jerusalem. And the city turned out to welcome Jesus as he passed through its gates.
Surely he was surrounded already, not only by his ever present disciples, but by the scores of pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem for the annual feast of Passover which would soon begin.
Did anyone take note of the look of determination on Jesus face? Or were they all caught up in the joy of spring and Passover to notice the Master’s resolute demeanor. With less than two weeks to live, the Lord was certain to make every moment count. There was a purpose for the journey to the perfumed city.
I. The Missing Man
If Jericho had many priests as residents, it seemed to have just as many publicans – the Tax Collectors were everywhere. For where there was money, there were those anxious to collect Caesar’s share, and line their pockets in the process.
The head of all these tax collectors, the ruler of them all, was an unassuming man of small stature. A man who’s name meant ‘pure’ but was anything but pure; Zacchaeus, the chief publican. He was a man who had everything that wealth had to offer. The best in designer robes, the finest Italian leather sandals (no doubt), and gold rings on every finger. He owned a home in the exclusive district of town, not far from the royal palace built by Herod’s son. His home held every imaginable amenity and luxury. Pools of water filled with exotic fish, a beautiful balsam grove and shady palm trees. Servants lined the halls ready to meet his beck and call. Fine art, pottery and sculptures provided interest for his occasional visitors. Perhaps even a Roman bath in which to recline. No expense was spared in the construction of his home. Yet in spite of it all Zacchaeus was a missing man. Or perhaps said differently, Zacchaeus was a man who was aware that something was missing.
Why had Zacchaeus amassed such wealth? Why had he chosen his profession? Perhaps it was the best way he could think of for wreaking revenge on those who had tormented him so mercilessly growing up. Surely he must have had a difficult time, being so noticeably shorter than everyone else. Perhaps he wanted revenge and the best way to do it was to pimp taxes for Rome. Perhaps it was his way for compensating for his lack of stature. Surely people would have to respect gold, and with it the man that held it. But it hadn’t worked. For all his wealth he felt empty.
He came to the streets this day with the deep hollow, sickening feeling that haunted his every quiet moment, that something was missing, something he couldn’t buy; something he couldn’t seem to find.
Zacchaeus would have fit in well in modern 21st Century society. For we know what it is to feel like something is missing. Who hasn’t chased down the end of the rainbow only to find that the pot is filled with ‘fool’s gold’?
In this modern culture, it is common to find expression through music, and no one expresses our feeling of being lost better than Sarah McLaughlin’s haunting song ‘Fallen’. Listen to her lyric: