2019 Advent Devo: Jesus Meets Zaccheus

As we join Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem, he stops in the city of Jericho. As always, there is a large crowd following him. One man in the crowd, a very short man, wants so badly to see Jesus that he climbs a tree to get a better view. And guess what?!? Jesus not only notices him but stops to talk to him. So, Luke introduces us to Zacchaeus, a Jew by birth but, as the chief tax collector, an enemy to his countrymen. Definitely not a crowd favorite. And, even worse in their eyes —a sinner! And yet, Jesus saw into the heart of this “sinner.” He told him to come down and then he invited himself to stay with Zacchaeus. The crowd is appalled! But, Zacchaeus “welcomes him gladly” and in his response to Jesus pledges one-half of all his possessions to the poor. In addition, he promises to pay back four times the amount of money to those whom he may have cheated. Wow! For a man once defined by the pursuit and love of money that is what I call a transformation! To the stunned crowd, Jesus reminds them Zacchaeus is like them, a son of Abraham. Could that possibly mean that they, too, were sinners? Above all, Jesus proclaims that he “has come to seek and to save what was lost.” I wonder how many truly heard him.

We still sing the favorite children’s song,

Zacchaeus was a wee little man A wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree 

The Savior for to see. And as the Savior came passing by He looked up in the tree. And he said, “Zacchaeus, you come down from there! For I’m going to your house today.” 

It’s a great song and it’s wonderful to hear a group of kids singing Bible stories together. But this isn’t the whole story. In fact, it completely misses the significance of Zacchaeus and, I know it it had nothing to do with being a “wee little man.” Zacchaeus was a sinner! His sins of greed, cheating and selfishness were evident to all. But Jesus saw beyond the external and into his heart. When Zacchaeus met Jesus, he immediately obeyed him and gladly took him to his home. Zacchaeus was convicted that he needed to change and he did! In fact, he was completely transformed.

In my personal meditation, I don’t see many differences between Zacchaeus and myself. I know how it feels not to be able to see over the heads of the crowd around me. But, my true connection to Zacchaeus is this, “I am a sinner.” I thank God that he sees inside my heart and loves me enough to save me and to change me.

In this season of advent, we focus so much on the images of the sweet innocence of baby Jesus. But Advent’s true meaning and celebration should be on what that child would and does mean to the world for all eternity. He came to seek and to save what was lost! And that means me and you! I pray that his love and forgiveness will transform us all into more of his likeness as we move past Advent and into the 2020.

You are loved,