Summary: Like Zacchaeus, none of us really measures up but Jesus knows what you need—a relationship. He knows your name and sees you not who you are, but who you can become.
Zacchaeus: Out on a Limb for Jesus
By Dr. David O. Dykes
After the series on getting Plugged In, we’re back in the gospel according to Luke. Today, we’re going to look at one of the most wonderful stories in the Bible: Zacchaeus. Like many of you I was first exposed to Zacchaeus as a child in Sunday School. I can still remember the little song we learned written by Elsie Leslie. If you know it, sing it along with me, and do the motions:
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.
I’ve removed the pulpit today because after we read the scripture I want some kids to come up and help me present an impromptu drama of Zacchaeus and Jesus. I haven’t asked anyone to help me, so if you are in the first, second, or third grade, pay close attention to the details in the story, so you can volunteer to help me. Let’s read about it from God’s Word. I want to read verse 10 before we start with verse 1. Verse 10 tells us why Jesus was willing to become friends with a man like Zacchaeus–and it’s the same reason Jesus wants to be my friend and your friend. (verse 10): “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” That’s the principle, now let’s read the story that demonstrates the principle beginning in verse one:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus [we’ll call him Zach for short]; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today SALVATION has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
What a great story! Now, I need about seven or eight kids to come up on stage right now so we can recreate this story in a short drama. So, if you are in the first, second, or third grade, come on up and help me. We’ll pretend we’re making a movie entitled “The Day Zach Met Jesus”. I’ll be the movie director, David “Spielberg” Dykes, and I’ll tell you what to do. Okay, I need someone to play Jesus, who’ll be Jesus? Okay, you can be Jesus–and I need someone little to be Zach–great. I need the rest of you to be the people in the village of Jericho, the mob. Jesus, you aren’t in town yet, so you go stand over there (stage left). Okay, mob, you guys line up on this tape. Pretend that this is a street; we’ll call it 5th Avenue.
Our movie has three scenes. Scene one is going to be “The Mean Tax Collector.” Here’s some money for you guys–but don’t get too happy–because the tax man cometh! You see Zach was the chief tax collector, he had a company called I.R.S., which stood for “I’m Rich and Short.” See, he so he could collect as much tax as he wanted, and he cheated the people by taking more taxes than they actually owed. He had his own IRS office right here on 5th Avenue–it was called Zach’s 5th Avenue.
So, Zach, you’ll walk in front of the people and take all their money and as you do it you go “Heh, heh, heh.” And mob, as you give him your money, grumble and act like you are really angry: huff and puff. Zach, grab their money and turn around and grin at the crowd, and keep laughing. Quiet on the set, lights, camera, action!…Good, good, great. Zach, you’re a natural, baby! Cut, print!
Okay, Act Two is called “Out on a Limb.” Now mob, hold your places, Jesus you’re going to enter walking slowing down the street like a celebrity. Can you give that “parade wave?” Good. Now, Zach, baby, you are going to get behind the mob and you try will try to squeeze your way between them to see Jesus, and mob, you may have to him give your taxes, but you aren’t going to let him get in front of you. Hmm, let’s see, I need a tree. I need someone to play a sycamore tree. I’ve been to Israel and seen these trees–they are big and ugly–so I need someone big and ugly. Hey, you! You’d make a great sycamore tree! C’mon up here and stand right there on the “x” and be the tree. Have you ever played a tree before? No? Well, it’s time for you to branch out! Kids, don’t be afraid of him, his bark is worse than his bite. But still, you’d better leave him alone; he hasn’t been feeling well lately–he’s been “sick-a-more-or less.”