19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 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.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
There is something comical about a disliked, short, rich man, probably wearing a robe climbing a tree out of excitement to see Jesus. Comedy aside though, I find myself wondering: What did Zacchaeus see in Jesus that made him so excited? What was it that had him so quick to climb down and take Jesus to his house “in great excitement and joy”?
Previously I have envisaged a bumbling man with no friends, eager to receive some love and attention from a great leader who had the approval of crowds of people. Perhaps there is an element of this, but I wonder if there is more going on within him than this, and possibly, this is what Jesus sees.
Whether due to an act of the Holy Spirit, an act of emotional excitement or his own wisdom, Zacchaeus saw who Jesus really was, and responded to him in repentance. Members of the crowd clearly did not respond in the same way.
I am encouraged by the way that Christ can cause such a response and I am reminded that this is a response to Him that we should expect and pray for in others far more often!
Written by Justin Ware