In “A Passion for Change Part 1” we looked at Zacchaeus’ child-like hunger for Jesus, his relentless passion, and willingness to sacrifice his dignity to get just one glimpse of his Savior. Zacchaeus surrendered everything to see the One he longed for, but the story didn’t end there:
When Jesus got to that place, he looked up into the tree and said, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry on down, for I am appointed to stay at your house today!’ So he scurried down the tree and came face-to-face with Jesus. (Luke 19: 5-6, The Passion Translation)
I want you to picture the scene unfolding in your mind: Zacchaeus clung to the branch, leaning forward to see Jesus as He continued down the pathway. Still surrounded by a great crowd, Jesus looked up into the tree and spoke to him, bringing Zacchaeus to the very moment he had sacrificed his dignity for. Jesus called him to come down, telling the chief tax collector that he would stay in his home. Jesus must have felt the tug of this man’s longing- perhaps the very thing that had drawn Him to the base of the tree to call to Zacchaeus. Dr. Simmon’s Passion Translation speaks plainly to what happened next.
“So he scurried down the tree and came face-to-face with Jesus.”
In that moment, Zacchaeus’ undignified perch became a place of prominence, a position that brought him an introduction to Jesus Himself. Zacchaeus’ indomitable desire to see His Savior- to the point of humiliating himself- ultimately brought him honor. I’m sure it didn’t take long for everyone in Jericho to know about that day’s peculiar event: the chief tax collector, a man associated with dishonor, had been summoned by Jesus, a teacher of God’s Truth, to host dinner.
The story continues- jumping from the tree to the dusty road way, Zacchaeus nearly stumbled forward as he caught his footing and looked up to find himself face-to-face with the One he had so longed to see. Jesus’ countenance radiated kindness, His lips showed a subtle and discernible smile, and His eyes pierced Zacchaeus’ heart. Zacchaeus caught his breath, as his heart flooded with a warmth he had never known before. Quickly he led the way to his home, overwhelmed, awkward, excited!
What a moment.
Zacchaeus was so transformed by his encounter with Jesus that this chief tax collector pledged to give away half of what he owned to the poor. This was no idle pledge, considering that every angry, envious, dumbstruck villager would have held him to such a statement. Zacchaeus’ transformation was probably a tale long told around this city. Jericho was about to be completely changed by the most unlikely character, the one man no one would have picked. No one except a loving Savior, who could change his heart with one encounter.
Imagine the look on people’s faces as Zacchaeus made good on his promise. This changed man was about to touch the people of Jericho by his simple, but profound acts of kindness and generosity. The man empowered to take their money, became the one giving it to those most in need.
The longing of Zacchaeus to encounter Jesus was the beginning of something great. His hunger drew the Lord to him, and once he saw God face-to-face, he was never the same again. May it be our deepest desire to encounter Jesus face-to-face, that we may be transformed by His love!
Let’s pray together: Holy Spirit, I ask you to set my heart ablaze with longing for Jesus today. Above all things, may I long to see you face-to-face, and encounter you in your mercy, love, and kindness. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.