When you get a moment, read Luke 19:1-9 (click to read). For me, it encapsulates the relationship between an average person who is trying to just know what this whole “Jesus” thing is about. But it also reveals that once you set your eyes on Him, you’ll immediately want to stay fixed…and even change a couple things about yourself. As I was going up my own “tree,” these seven principles came to me–I pray they add a blessing to one who needs it out there.
The passage isn’t long; allow me to take literary license and paraphrase the story: there’s a man named Zacchaeus–let’s call him “Zack.” Zack heard that Jesus was coming through Jerico and he wanted to see who Jesus was, but he had a slight problem–he was short and could not see above the crowd. PRINCIPLE ONE: HOW WE SEE & GET TO JESUS OFTEN HAS TO DO WITH TWO FACTORS; 1) HOW WE VIEW OURSELVES AND 2) THE CROWD AROUND US. Like Zack, it is not uncommon for us to have the desire to meet God…but we feel that we come up “short.” Furthermore, it doesn’t help when you’re amongst a crowd that won’t allow you to see past your short-comings! So let’s continue…Zack, seeing his obstacle, ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore-fig tree because he just HAD to see Jesus! Which segways to PRINCIPLE TWO: RUN TOWARDS WHERE YOU WANT TO BE; YOU MAY HAVE TO RUN AWAY, FAST, AND ULTIMATELY CLIMB ABOVE YOUR PRESENT CONDITION. Zack could have accepted his disadvantages and turned around to go back home the same way he came. And for the record…he was LOADED!!! It is not like he was materially lacking anything. BUT, his desire, like many of ours, was not to be satisfied with earthly treasures but to fill the internal desire to be spiritually whole! And to do that…it takes WORK! He not only RAN AWAY from the crowd, but he ran AHEAD! Don’t be swayed to think you must stay in your current state. Your present location can be the quicksand to your spiritual emptiness–or the motivation for change!!! Zack also realized that due to being short, he still had a problem SEEING God; so he had to climb UP! The side effect of sin is distorted vision; we all have a past, leaving our focus to be a little “off-centered.” Gain your center back! Realize that you are not going to meet Jesus just doing the “same ol’ same ol'” but that YOU have to MOVE! Zack climbed a sycamore fig tree (which averages about 20ft) just to see Jesus. What are you willing to run away from? How fast are willing to go? How high are you willing to climb?
The story doesn’t end there. Jesus finally stops, but He doesn’t stop anywhere; He reaches the exact spot where Zack was…and looks UP. “Zack, get down here NOW! I must stay in your house TODAY.” (v. 5). So Zack came down and immediately welcomed Jesus. PRINCIPLE THREE: IF YOU SET YOURSELF TO SEEN BY GOD, BE READY TO HAVE A LIFELONG GUEST. There’s a saying: If you make one step towards God, He take two towards you. Jesus knows when you are making an effort! And when He meets, He will not treat you like a stranger. He called Zack out BY NAME. He already knows you dude! Jesus didn’t ask “do you want me to heal, bless, clothe”…none of that; He knew exactly what Zack needed– A VISITATION! Zack’s heart was already waiting for Jesus to walk in. So my question is: Are you ready for Jesus to walk to your spot? To be a guest? Are you afraid of what He will find in your heart/home? (well…don’t be).
Just when you thought the crowd was a non-factor, here THEY go; murmuring and talking about how crazy it was that Jesus was going to spend time with a sinner. See, Zack was a tax collector…probably the most despised profession of that time (and…maybe even now:) . He was considered a robber of the poor, a thief, a liar, an opportunist, and one who is capable of doing basically anything to get ahead. The interesting thing is the response Zack gives. The Bible says:
“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.” (Luke 19:8).
PRINCIPLE FOUR: THE CROWD IS ALWAYS WATCHING…AND MANY WILL REMEMBER YOU FOR WHAT THEY KNEW OF YOU. I will not spend a lot of time on this, but the reality is, once you live for Christ, you are breaking the norm–and you will be persecuted. Part of that comes the witness of those before you..the ones who you wronged; the ones you hurt; the ones who used to be “there for you” when you were partaking in unhealthy behavior. They are QUICK to remind you of your stature. And yes..it is powerful enough to affect you if you let it. It says that Zack “stood up,” which means that shortly after coming down from the tree to meet Jesus, the weight of the words must have gotten him so down that he literally shrunk in size! Whether he was sitting or hunched over or just had his head down–the Bible doesn’t say. But he had to be down at some point because the Bible does tell us that he STOOD UP! He remembered what his purpose was and applied PRINCIPLE FIVE: MAKE YOUR PROMISE TO GOD, NOT TO MAN! Zack did not address the crowd; the crowd could not fulfill his desire! He looked to the Lord…telling Jesus that HERE & NOW he was willing to repent and payback for his sins! In short, the tax collector TAXED HIMSELF to be a servant not only to God, but to his community. You may waste breath making amends with people who are just as flawed as you…and really have no heaven or hell to put you in. If you are really serious about your relationship with Jesus, do a HERE AND NOW affirmation: forget the crowd, put them behind! Stay TALL and work with God to make things right in His sight.
What is the reward? PRINCIPLE SIX: A FEW MOMENTS OF SWEAT, CAN RECLAIM YOUR WHOLE HOUSE. The crowd was talking. Zack got a little discouraged, then encouraged. And while all this is going on…Jesus stayed right there through it all! Once in your life, Jesus is not walking out…and He is there to be a perpetual blessing to you and those around you. For the sweat and effort Zack gave to see Jesus, reach for Jesus, and change for Jesus, salvation came to not only Zack…but his whole family!
“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 19:9-10).
PRINCIPLE SEVEN: IF YOU WERE LOST AND ARE READING THIS, CONGRATULATIONS…HE SOUGHT YOU OUT!
….reading through all this was a bit of a climb…but now that you are at the “top,” why go back? Trust, the view up here is much better…
Being “lost” is now a choice you have to make. Choose wisely.
(P.S. thanks for being patient..know I’ve been away for a couple weeks. Thanks for the uplifting thoughts…they were definitely felt:)