“There was a man named Zacchaeus, a tax collector and he was rich. He was trying to see Jesus, but he could not on account of the crowd, because he was small in stature.”
Get ready, get set, and grow! Have you ever heard someone described by their height, especially in the case of a criminal investigation? The first questions asked of the witnesses are,
“What did he look like? How tall was he?” This devotional is for all those who have been defined by your physical attributes. In some way or another you’ve been hindered by what others viewed as shortcomings.
When we read the story of Zacchaeus, we see him defined by three characteristics. “There was a man called Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, and he was rich. He was trying to see Jesus, but he could not see on account of the crowd, because he was short in stature.” He was described negatively as a tax collector, but also rich and short, as if these are terrible attributes. Certainly in Zacchaeus’ day, his profession was not embraced because he took everyone’s hard earned money. Add to that, he is rich, and also short. For a man, I really doubt this description was a confidence builder, but for all those who judged him, it was about to get real up in here! Jesus had entered Jericho and was passing through with no plans to stay. Zacchaeus had heard He was coming and was determined to do whatever he had to do because he didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I can picture Zacchaeus navigating through the sea of people, standing on the tips of his toes, jumping up and down, and trying his best to see above all the taller men in the crowd. Realizing he was completely hindered because of his height and the size of the crowd, this method of attempting to see Jesus wasn’t working for him. Instead of giving up, he found a way. He decides to bypass the crowd by running ahead, anticipating Jesus’ route. He finds a sycamore (or fig tree) and climbs it all the way to the top. Now what happens next is vitally important because when Jesus arrived at that very tree, He looked up! In the midst of this large crowd of people surrounding Jesus, someone had caught his attention. Are you aware of how many scripture passages encourage us to look up? For example Psalm 121:1 says, “I will lift my eyes up to the heavens where my help comes from.” But Jesus intentionally looked up that tree knowing Zacchaeus was there. What happens next is nothing ‘short’ of amazing! Jesus speaks directly to Zacchaeus calling him by name, “Zacchaeus hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today!” I can imagine the look on this tax collector’s face as he shimmies down that tree, invited to stand right next to Jesus. No more jumping up and down straining to get a glimpse of the prophet from a distance. They were now face to face! His ambition, drive and calculated efforts landed Zacchaeus not only in Jesus’ presence but with an opportunity to host Him for dinner!! No one ever wanted to hang out with Zacchaeus let alone go to his home. He’s the sinner that takes everyone’s money for a living. And obviously he must be doing something underhanded because he was rich. All rich people must be ungodly sinners, right? As he and Jesus walked together towards Zacchaeus’ home they could hear the crowd begin mocking and gossiping. (The same crowd that once judged him is the same people hurdling insults and jealously because Jesus chose to walk with him). It’s also important to note the tree Zacchaesus chose to climb because the prophetic symbolism is profound truth we must grasp for ourselves. This sycamore, or fig tree, has wide spreading branches and affords a delightful shade. It’s usually planted by the waysides and its leaves are heart shaped, downy on the underside and fragrant. The fruit grows directly from the trunk in little sprigs and clusters like grapes. To make it edible, each fruit, three or four days before gathering, is punctured with a sharp instrument or fingernail. In the book of Chronicles we read that David valued these trees so much he appointed special overseers for them! What an incredible insight as we see a man who was despised and hated in his community simply because of his wealth and professions choose such a tree in order to not miss his time of visitation. Once this guest of honor was in his home, what transpires next unfolds the character of Zacchaeus and why Jesus chose to alter his plans just for this man. Zacchaeus stood next to Jesus and said, “Lord, half of my goods I now give to the poor and if I cheated anyone out of anything, I will restore it four times as much.” Jesus doesn’t even respond to the money issue but says to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham, for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.”
Whatever physical limitations or weaknesses that have hindered you will now be the very shortcomings that will launch you into great destiny. We must learn to use what we ourselves or others describe as a disadvantage and use it to our advantage. This is the heart and mind of a warrior. Limitations are to be pressed through, not surrendered to. A little effort paid off as we witnessed with Zacchaeus. Everything and everyone that could come against him, did, but he ran! He ran ahead of everyone. He didn’t hang with the crowds or associate with the Who’s Who of Jewish society therefore; he was not welcomed or accepted. He endured jealousy because of his profession and wealth. You may find yourself in the same place as our brother Zacchaeus. However, you cannot allow what you look like, your social status, financial bracket, or anything else to be the defining factor in your relationship with Jesus. To the contrary; it’s the foolish things of the world that confound the wisdom of the wise. Zacchaeus embodied the very heart of Jesus. He was ambitious, wise, and determined (who thinks to run to a tree and climb to the top in order to see Jesus)? Most importantly to note from all we read about this tax collector, one character trait stands out above all else: he was a giver! This man was judged by what was seen on the outside, and from this they made a determination that he was a sinner. Surely he stole from others to become this wealthy. But while they gave 10%, Zacchaeus purposed to give Jesus half! His response to Jesus gives us insight into the very heart of this man. “If I have wronged anyone, I will give even more in order to make restitution.” What can we learn from this unpopular tax collector? Obviously this attitude change impressed Jesus, because his reply was that salvation has come to his house. He even references God’s covenant with Abraham, to whom He promised that his descendants would outnumber the stars. Massive blessing just came to the house of Zacchaeus. A man, who wanted to see Jesus, pushed beyond what everyone else was doing in order to reach him. A man who ran ahead and climbed what was the most fruitful, heart shaped, deeply rooted shade tree in order to see truth from a higher perspective. A rich man with a heart to give more! The end result was that Jesus decided to change his plans and stay in his home! Salvation and blessing was the result. A little extra effort will pay off and who knows, but that blessing and salvation shall come to your house this year as well!
The Word and the Workout ©
Prophetic Insight into Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Fitness
The Way of a Warrior-Book 1
Author: Gina Guy-Warren
Day 7-A Call To Action
How have you allowed nicknames and/or stereotypes to limit things you wanted to try?
Are you willing to push through these challenges?
In what ways have you been strengthened throughout your life?
List a few things you would like to revisit and put a plan into place to accomplish them