Very recently I was reading in Luke and was captured by the story of Zacchaeus. Do you know the story?
“Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree, For the Lord he wanted to see
And as the Savior passed that way, He looked up in that tree
And He said, “Zacchaes, you come down! For I’m going to your house today,
For I’m going to your house stay!”
That’s the children’s song about Zacchaes that I have known FOR YEARS. But for some reason, as with most things that I blog about, the story hit me quite differently reading it this time.
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed the sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.” (Luke 19:1-4)
In another version it says that being of a small stature he could not see Jesus because of the crowd. And as I read this I was struck by the fact that he wasn’t just small in stature physically, although that would have been the most immediate thing that would be seen, but he was small in terms of his character. Zacchaeus was a tax collector and not just a tax collector but a chief tax collector. This was like the manager over the regular tax collectors. And tax collectors in that day and age would take the actual tax, inflate it and keep the extra for themselves. And this was why Zacchaeus wasn’t just a chief tax collector but he was wealthy. He was despised by the other Jews and thought the lowest of the low in sinners. So you see his character was small.
“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner’.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.’” (Luke 19:5-10)
Jesus looked up and saw Zacchaeus. He wasn’t surprised when He looked up. He knew that Zacchaeus was there and then He surprised everyone by saying, “I must stay at YOUR house.” I MUST, what an enchanting phrase when stated by the Savior. I MUST speaks of desire that won’t be quenched, I MUST speaks of zeal. I MUST means that there is something behind that drives. But what would drive the Savior to seek out the presence of a sinner? The heart that He saw when He looked at Zacchaeus. You see everyone, including Zacchaeus, saw the sinner as he was at that very moment. They saw his small character, the sins he lived and the lowly life that he led. But Jesus saw Zacchaeus the way that God intended Him to be. Jesus saw the dreams that had yet to be birthed inside of Zacchaeus, his potential with everything that God had put inside of him. Jesus saw the heart that sought Jesus. It was the very heart that propelled Zacchaeus, a grown man, to climb up into the tree to catch a glimpse of the savior.
And what happened when Jesus sought out Zacchaeus and stated His desire to be with him? The heart that was crying out responded. Without a critical word spoken by the Savior, Zacchaeus’ heart flung out the very sin that had held it captive. Why? Because being seen by the Savior had freed it. How incredible is that?! When I read this passage for most likely the hundredth time my breath caught and tears threatened my eyes. For I am Zacchaeus. I am small in stature. I am not seen often and when I am seen I am seen in the small of my character. Who I really am no one understands or recognizes… but the Savior. Oh, He sees me. Not as I am but the potential inside of me. And He releases me from the sin that holds my heart so that the sin may be spewn forth and out of me. The Savior frees me so that I may see myself as the one that He desires to be with.
And at that very moment, when I see myself as the one that He desires to be with, He has given me His eyes to see the others. For I am not the only Zacchaeus, I look up to see that the very people who called out my small stature are small in stature themselves. It is like a mirror to see what I only saw myself to be includes those around me. But, the Savior sees them as well and has given me His eyes that I may see them as they were created to be as well. The potential of who they are. The ones they have been created to be that are held hostage by the sin around their hearts. And it is as we see them, the Savior and I, that they are set free as well.
Have you been seen by the Savior? In the midst of your sin and your smallness? Do you see that He desires ardently to be WITH you?
And do you see as the Savior sees? Have you taken on His eyes to see the created ones who are being held captive. Look up, and see. And walk arm and arm with the Savior to see.