Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. He had about
eight days to live. As he was passing through the business community
of Jericho he paused for a day to have dinner with a new found
friend named Zacchaeus.
It was an unusual event. Zacchaeus was far from a religious zealot.
He was in fact the chief tax collector of the area, a man involved
in many busi¬nesses, and very, very rich. He was not a terribly
bad man, only very busy about business. Probably 7/8 of his fortune
had been made honestly and that made him almost a saint in that
wheeling/dealing town. He never was against God, mind you; he
just didn't have time for him. Thus it was quite strange that
he should feel a need to see the God-man Jesus as he passed by.
But he did feel the need. By the grace of God a little crevice
opened in his life (normally con¬sumed with earthly business),
a crevice that could only be filled by seeing Jesus. But "seeing"
any¬one in a crowd was a monstrous problem for Zacchaeus.
He was very short, you see, and could never hope to see Jesus
over the towering heads of those who crowded the street where
Jesus was to pass by. He solved his problem by climbing a tree,
one of those ancient sycamores with limbs reaching to the ground,
easy to climb even for a short man.
He climbed a tree with no high hopes. He just wanted to see Jesus.
He did not expect Jesus to do anything for him. Jesus was a godly
prophet; Zacchaeus was just an undersized human being adept at
only one thing: cutting a deal for a profit. In looking at Jesus
Zacchaeus had no expectation of being chosen by God. He only wanted
to see what he had been missing.
But the scenario did not work out that way. Jesus looked up into
the tree and saw that little man with a tiny gap in his life for
the love of God and immediately Jesus flooded him with that love
and said to him ... "Come down, Zacchaeus! For I must stay
with you today!"
Zacchaeus tumbled out of the tree in excitement. Suddenly he
was free of the earth. He promised to give away his hard-earned
wealth to the poor. He vowed to pay back anyone he cheated four
times over. Jesus smiled at his enthusiasm and said: "This
day salvation has come to this house."
We don't know what happened to Zacchaeus after that. All we know
is that eight days before his death Jesus gave eternal life to
a little man who opened his life just a little bit to the grace