Big Lessons from a Wee Little Man

11:51 AMHeather

Zaccheus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he 
He climbed up in a sycamore tree to see what he could see
For the Lord he wanted to see, For the Lord he wanted to see

Zaccheus. Small in stature. But apparently, big in status. He was the chief tax collector, according to Luke 19. And he was wealthy. 

He was lining his pockets with the little extra he gathered from the citizens when he collected their taxes. That's how it worked. And he must have been really good at it, as he was the chief of the government sanctioned thieves and he was wealthy.

Surely, the means to his end brought him scorn from his community. Yes, he had achieved success and wealth and status, despite his small stature. But he wasn't well liked. Sure, his power and position must have afforded him favors and perhaps even some degree of influence with his neighbors. Surely, some postured themselves to stay in his good graces. They all must have known he could be bought.

His very financial status, clothing, and home emphasized that truth about him. That perhaps he was a man they loved to hate. Or hated to love.

He really was not the weakling or runt that the children's song made him out to be. There had to be a lot of determination and ambition wrapped up in that tiny package. He was a force to be reckoned with, not some cute little guy whose cheeks you wanted to squeeze. 

He had it all, by the world's standards. He had money, influence, a stable job, and probably all the luxuries afforded a man in that culture. Servants to handle the house work. Underlings tagging along to do the grunt work. 

Not unlike celebrities or politicians of this day. They've achieved a level of success that is enviable.

But yet...

...something is still wanting within them. For all the money, prestige, and power...there is still a short little person feeling empty. A longing not fulfilled. A yearning and an insecurity within them. 

Because they know, behind it all--behind the mask of success--there is a wee little man.

Do we not see it in every media blitz about some famous person who's gone off the rails? Success and fame and wealth do not bring happiness, and often fuel a rapid self-destruction.

They are Zaccheus. Mighty and powerful...but yet a wee little man.

We may even be Zaccheus. Not necessarily rich or famous or a celebrated or hated even... but lacking.

For all that we have achieved and accomplished and gained and earned, we know. When others applaud us or we sense our power or control over others...there is a voice taunting us.

You're just a wee little person. 

When we think we've arrived, there is still a voice within, pointing out our shortcomings.

Pun intended.

There's a need. 

Yet God feels far off.

Maybe we are even putting on the perfect church going persona. But behind closed doors, when we get quiet and honest with ourselves, we are tiny and small and God feels far off.

At some point, maybe like Zaccheus, we decide we gotta do something about it. We cannot keep living with the duality of big achievements and small fulfillment. We cannot keep wrestling against the circumstances and the feelings and the struggles that are dwarfing us, stealing our peace and joy and hope.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zaccheus; 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 a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
Luke 19:1-6

As I read this passage yesterday, my mind went to the children's song about it all, and at first, I was tempted to dismiss these few verses.

But I was caught by two things. Two things that stood out once put into the context of the previous chapter in Luke:

1-- Jesus had just healed a blind beggar on his way to Jericho
2--Jesus had just warned the crowd how hard it was for a rich man to enter heaven during an encounter with a rich ruler

And so, I paused and sat on these six verses for a few minutes.

Then, I saw things I had never seen. Because I had been too busy with the children's song and familiarity. 

But, if we pause then we find truths that can reach into whatever it is in our lives that makes God feel far off and circumstances feel too big to battle.

1. Jesus is all about reaching out for the broken, rejected and outcast. Jesus' agenda--his itinerary read, "Go to Jericho." But his REAL agenda--his REAL itinerary is people. He healed the blind beggar and met a wealthy, hated successful tax collector.

Whether we are blind literally, begging for food. Or, we are blind spiritually with wealth overflowing.

2. When a heart longs to see Jesus, even the biggest idols and distractions LOSE THEIR HOLD.  Zaccheus was wealthy. Just a few verses prior, Jesus tells the rich ruler, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven." Jesus tells one rich person it is hard to enter the kingdom of heaven, and one of the very next stories describes another wealthy person's encounter with Jesus--with a very different outcome. The first rich man went away sad from Jesus. The second rich man hosted Jesus in his home.

Both men were plagued by a wealth and a decision to make. One was unwillingly to surrender his security in his money. The other was desperate to see Jesus. 

One wanted validation for the way he was living by the rules. But he didn't want Jesus.

The other wanted even just a glimpse of Jesus, because he was tired of living by his own rules.

No matter what is holding you back from an abundant life in Christ, we can be assured of this.

When our hearts long to see Jesus, everything else can lose its hold.

3. Jesus' agenda is always to meet us where we are--no matter the brokenness. He meets us under the sycamore tree, or while we go about our self-righteous business, wanting our ears to be tickled. 

Jesus doesn't require us to go to great lengths to find him. He meets us right were we are. There is no anger, pain, sorrow, or struggle where he cannot meet us right in the middle of it. Rich and prideful. Blind and begging. Powerful and lonely.

It just doesn't matter. He meets us where we are. 

4. Jesus calls us by name. Jesus stood under that tree and he called Zaccheus by name. We are not a number or a problem or an afterthought to our Savior. We are never out of his reach, too high in the trees of our circumstances.

He comes to us and calls us by name. Because he is an intimate, relational Savior. 

5. That we would run ahead and climb trees and exert efforts to see Jesus. Here's the deal. He is always coming our way. But how hard will we work to see him? To know him? To learn more? To catch a tiny passing glimpse of the person of Jesus? Are you willing? Are you hungry for a fresh encounter with him? Will you work for it? Seek it? Make it your priority?

6. Jesus is not one for casually being seen by us. Jesus was not content to just walk on by and let Zaccheus get the glimpse he desired. 

Jesus wants to dine with us. Jesus wants to stay with us. To be known by us, not just to be seen at a distance.

Jesus does not want us to snatch a glimpse on Sunday morning, and then go on with our week and never encounter him again. He is not content with such a distant and impersonal definition of a relationship with us.

Jesus says to us, as he said to Zaccheus:
I must stay at your house today.

I must.

STAY.

At your house. With you.

TODAY. Not later. 

7. How will we respond? What will our answer be today, when we feel a tug to read our Bible or say a prayer or thank him for the blessings we have? Will we walk away sad, because we think Jesus asks too much of us (Luke 18:22-23).

Or, will we come down at ONCE and welcome Jesus gladly? (Luke 19:6)

That we would welcome Jesus gladly. Come down from our perches and our positions and our status and our accolades and our wealth...and welcome him gladly.

Oh the big lessons we can learn from that wee little man.

Jesus is passing by. Every day. In a million ways.

Will we acknowledge our deficits and our needs--beyond our shallow status or wealth or achievements? 

Could we just pray for a heart that longs to see Jesus? 

A heart that is so willing that we would climb the heights to do so?


Even if it's a sycamore tree in the middle of a huge crowd. 

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