Embracing the Uncertain – Devotional Series
Luke 19:1-10 (NKJV)
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
As one who grew up in a Christian home (I’m a Salvation Army officers’ kid), I attended and participated in Sunday School regularly. Often, I learned Bible Stories and how I ought to live my life as a child of God through songs and choruses. One such chorus taught the story of Zacchaeus…here’s how I learned it…
Zacchaeus was a very little man and a very little man was he;
He climbed up in a sycamore tree for he wanted his Lord 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 for tea”
Scripture does not record whether Zacchaeus served Jesus “tea” or not…but it does indicate that Zacchaeus joyfully welcomed Jesus into his home. Zacchaeus was a rich man and he was delighted that Jesus would want to come to his home. We can be certain that Jesus was treated as a most honored guest.
There is some debate among Biblical scholars as to whether Zacchaeus indeed treated those in his employ unfairly…benefited from cheating them…or if he in spite of being a “chief tax collector,” (responsible for oversight of several tax collectors) was an honest man. We can be sure though that he was perceived by the people of his day to be a cheat because he was chief tax collector and he was rich. Most scholars agree that he indeed had taken advantage of his position and that his encounter with Jesus was significant…in fact it was a life-changing event. It was a moment of surrender.
Some perspective from Vince Miller* regarding Zacchaeus…
“His occupation was not well received. His position, without a doubt, was despised. He was well-known but not well-loved. Add to this he was not a commanding person due to his height and maybe (he was) frequently picked on as a child.
Despite all this, he is still eager. He hears Jesus the Christ is coming to town. Therefore, he runs ahead of everyone else and positions himself in the best possible place to see Christ coming down the street. Thus, he climbed this janky and awkward sycamore tree. Racing up the tree as high as he could, he catches a glimpse. “He is coming,” he thinks to himself. Closer and closer he comes until finally, he realizes he…(has)…a front row seat.”
What would possess Zacchaeus to take such extreme measures? There had to be something gnawing at his conscience even before he rushed through the crowd and climbed the tree (not a very dignified thing for a man of his status). Even though Zacchaeus was a rich man he was coming to a realization that there was a void in his life that needed to be filled. He was realizing that there needed to be a change. I believe that the Holy Spirit was working in his life to prepare him for this moment…and this moment was to be the moment of surrender.
Vince Miller continues… “The Man he was desperate to see desires to see him. For the first time in a long time Zacchaeus feels love, acceptance, and invitation. …. the invite is incredible – Christ wants to spend time with him in his home…and it’s emphatic – Christ must stay in his house today.”
The Scripture says… “So he (Zacchaeus) made haste and came down, and received Him (Jesus) joyfully.”
That’s what I call “surrender”! Zacchaeus joyfully received the Lord into his home then he experienced first-hand the love and grace of God. Zacchaeus joyfully committed to make restitution for any wrongs he may have committed and the implied promise moving forward was that he would be honest in all his dealings. It seems to me the Holy Spirit, in preparing Zacchaeus for this moment, had convicted him of the sin of dishonest dealings…perhaps change had already begun to take place in his life…but this was the moment of full surrender. Things would never be the same. This encounter with the Lord had sealed the deal. The words of Christ inside Zacchaeus’ home support it… “, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
These days because of COVID-19 people are spending quite a bit of time at home. Families with children, married couples and those who live alone are looking for ways to fill the long hours.
Many are binge watching Netflix (I must admit this is true to some degree in our home) …table games and jigsaw puzzles are making a comeback…screen time is way up as people are wanting to connect more on social media. I have loved seeing virtual vocal, orchestral and band music…people making connection with one another for the greater good even though physically they cannot be together.
This can all be good…but even in this we need to guard our hearts and minds. What could be better at a time such as this than to take the Lord up on His desire to be in our homes by joyfully welcoming Him as Zacchaeus did, as Honored Guest. With Christ as our Honored Guest, those things in our lives that still need to be surrendered will be revealed just as they were to Zacchaeus. May each of us respond in like manner…with a joyful desire to make things right.
In closing…I share as a benediction the words of 17th Century Poet Robert Herrick…
“The Best of Rooms”
“Christ, He requires still, whersoe’er He comes,
To feed, or lodge, to have the best of rooms;
Give Him the choice, grant Him the nobler part
Of all the house: the best of all’s the heart”
written by Major Philip Ferreira, Territorial Men’s Fellowship Secretary, USA East