Today’s Scripture: Luke 19 & 20
As a young boy, I grew up going to church almost every Sunday morning. I remember my family putting on our Sunday best and heading to Sunday school to start our day. Children’s church was always a highlight of my week, and I loved singing songs and making the motions that accompanied them.
If you grew up with a similar church experience, you probably remember singing songs like Father Abraham, I’ve Got the Joy, and My God is So Great. One of my favorite songs was entitled Zacchaeus. This song captures the story of a small little man and his encounter with Jesus.
It is short and simple and goes like this:
“Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree and he said,
‘Zacchaeus you come down, For I’m going to your house today!’
For I’m going to your house today!
Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
But a happy man was he,
For he had seen the Lord that day
And a happy man was he;
And a very happy man was he.”
As a young boy, I was one of the smaller kids, so I liked the idea that God would call out someone who was small to have lunch with him. I missed that there is more going on in this story though than the happy little song mentions.
We read in verse two of Luke 19 that Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector for the Roman government. At this time in history, Jews were under Roman rule and had to pay taxes to them. A fellow Jew would be appointed to collect these taxes, and it was well known that they often took more money than required. In essence, tax collectors were stealing from their Jewish neighbors and keeping it for themselves. No doubt, at the time of this story, the Jewish community that Zacchaeus was a part of did not like him. They viewed him as a traitor, a thief, and a sinner. Zacchaeus’ height was not his most significant issue. His biggest issue was his selfish and sinful heart because it was hurting those around him and isolating him from his community.
Zacchaeus finds himself at the beginning of Luke 19, rich in resources but poor in spirit and friends. I believe he was desperate for a change and a solution. No doubt, he had heard about Jesus’ miracles, his teachings, and his inclusive nature. Perhaps Jesus had the answers he was looking for, and he wanted to see it for himself and thus made every effort to get a glimpse. In the end, he received more than a glimpse. He received an invitation to connect, and it changed him forever.
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 the lost.”
Zacchaeus did all he could to get a glimpse of Jesus, what are you currently doing to connect with him? What emotions might Zacchaeus have been feeling when Jesus called him down from the tree? How have your encounters with Jesus changed you?
Take a moment and think about your current circumstances. Write down the ones that seem overwhelming and present them to God. As a church we will be in a season of prayer and fasting throughout January. Commit to participating in this and connecting with God as we start a new year. Visit cedarcreek.tv/21days for resources.
Heavenly Father, thank you for pursuing us and for inviting us to be in a relationship with you. Just like Jesus invited Zacchaeus to experience life change, you also invite us to know you more, to find freedom, to discover our purpose, and to make an eternal difference. Help me see how I can grow in those areas and give me the strength to trust you more each day. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.
This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.
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