There was a man called by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. (Luke 19:2-4)
Have you ever felt like Zacchaeus, where you just had to get a look at what was happening? Most of us will find a way if we really want to, but often we are just not that interested, or energetic about trying. There are not many things that inspire a lapse of dignity (like climbing a tree) in order to connect with our passion, but Zacchaeus demonstrates this kind of relentless passion.
Zacchaeus was not your ordinary citizen. He was the IRS man on steroids. The person we all love to hate. Not only was he incredibly unpopular, he was rich and unpopular. He could make things happen with his power and influence. The irony of his power was that Zacchaeus was short. Unable to use towering stature to intimidate, he had to find a way to gain respect through money. He was short enough that he could well have suffered with a Napoleon complex long before Napoleon ever had it. There is always something that we fight to overcome in our struggle to be great.
What a complex contradiction Zacchaeus is. One of the most powerful and influential men in the city is not able to get a front row seat to the most popular event in town, the arrival of Jesus. Zacchaeus is running along the back of the crowd that is lining the street. They are blocking every view, gawkers, mockers and the curious alike. There is no place for Zacchaeus in the crowd. His worldly power and influence are useless to gain him an entrance to Jesus.
This dignified and powerful man is about to do the most undignified thing: he hikes up the long skirt of his tunic and climbs a tree. Running ahead of the crowd, he scrambles up, sandals, scraped shins and all, and finds a perch high enough to glimpse the one man he longs to see. This is the place only children would dare to go. Nonetheless, his hunger to see Jesus is greater than any thought of consequences, greater than the loss of his dignity. It is this kind of childlikeness that opens our heart to God.
There is a deep longing in the heart of Zacchaeus that drives him to climb upward. Such longing can only be quenched by seeing the Savior, and nothing else will fill the yearning passion of his heart. All that he has gained through his own efforts is useless to gain him the one thing he longs for the most- an encounter with Jesus.
May we be this hungry and passionate for our Savior, longing to see him with such intensity that we forget ourselves and become childlike in our search. Do you still have such hunger?
Let’s pray together: Dear Lord, I ask you to reignite a childlike passion for you today. May I always be hungry to see you face-to-face, to encounter your mercy, your love, and your glory. May I never lose a deep longing to be with You. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.