He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass the way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Reprinted from May 5, 2017
How far are you willing to go to see something great? Have you made the trek to the Grand Canyon or another national park? Have you climbed a high mountain? Have you seen the sun rise over the ocean? Have you stood before a majestic waterfall and felt its power? Have you gone across the country for your favorite band or team? Have you hopped on a plane to surprise someone you love? Maybe you haven’t seen or done some of these things, but the mere mention of them stirs your desire. Most of us aren’t content with a postcard from the Grand Canyon. We want to go. We want to see. And when we see something great and glorious, it changes us. The life that made sense suddenly feels inadequate. The priorities that seemed right suddenly appear trivial. Sometimes we see something that changes everything. Or like Zacchaeus, we see Someone who changes everything.
Imagine what Zacchaeus had seen. He was not just a tax collector. He was the chief tax collector, and he was rich. He had tasted the pleasures of power and wealth. He had seen the best that the world had to offer, yet he was still looking. “He was seeking to see who Jesus was.” But Zacchaeus had two problems: he wasn’t popular, and he wasn’t tall. The crowds that followed Jesus were not kind to vertically challenged tax collectors. But Zacchaeus was willing to go far to see something great. The little tax man ran ahead of the crowds. He found a low-hanging branch and started to climb. He ignored the shame for a shot—a shot to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus, but he suddenly realized that Jesus was looking for him. The seeker had been sought; the lost had been found. Seeing Jesus changed the way Zacchaeus saw everything else. Everything that had been great for Zacchaeus faded in the presence of the glory of Christ. Zacchaeus’ use of power was no longer desirable, but despicable. His hoarding of wealth was no longer gratifying, but gross. In a moment, by the power of God, Zacchaeus was becoming a new person in Christ. That radical transformation quickly overflowed into a new commitment to radical generosity. Zacchaeus had hurt others by taking, but now he would help others by giving. All because he saw Jesus, and he knew that Jesus had seen and loved him.
Perhaps we’ve gone to great lengths to see something beautiful at some point in our lives. But how far are we willing to go to see Jesus? When we’ve seen the best the world has to offer, and we’re still looking, will we seek to see Jesus? Do we realize that the crowd around us—no matter who they are—can make it difficult to see Him for who He really is? What would it look like for us to get above the crowd and see Jesus? As much as we would love to control the process, Jesus flips the script. He makes the first move. He comes to our place. He sees us, and if we really see Him, He must have opened our eyes. So before we think about extending ourselves, we must consider how Jesus extended Himself. How far did Jesus go to see the greatest sight—the glory of God in the joy of His redeemed people? He left His home so that we would be brought home to God. He was torn so that we would be mended. He was poured out so that we would be filled. He was disfigured so that we would be beautiful. He was hated so that we would be loved. He closed His eyes in death so that we would open our eyes and share in His resurrection life. Have we seen this Jesus? If we have, it should be our joy to extend ourselves in new ways. How far are we willing to go to see something great? To see Jesus and to help others see Him? Will we stop and climb above the crowd? Will we look and listen for Jesus in His Word? And will we follow wherever He leads?
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.