(Note: pronounce this name zuh-KEE-us; sing if you want)
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.
Some of you may remember singing that children’s song at summer camp or Vacation Bible School. I am extending my hand right now holding my thumb and index finger close together, still recalling the brilliant choreography that accompanies the “wee little man was he” line.
Zacchaeus was short. He easily got lost in the crowd, and when Jesus passed through town Zacchaeus couldn’t see him. So he climbed a tree.
Zacchaeus was also short on character. As a tax collector, he defrauded people. The people spit the word “sinner” at the mention of his name.
Very related to this, Zacchaeus was also lost spiritually. He didn’t believe in Jesus. He wanted to see Jesus only as a celebrity. He was so busy making money he didn’t have time for religion.
He didn’t realize how shamefully he was hurting other people, and how deeply he was hurting himself. Lost. He wasn’t going to find faith in Jesus while he believed so much in himself.
But Jesus found him. Among all the people in the crowd, Jesus focused on Zacchaeus and invited himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ house.
The people couldn’t understand this. Why would Jesus befriend such a dishonorable, dirty scoundrel as this “sinner?” Certainly, the people thought, Jesus would be honored to befriend any of them but not this guy.
And so, those who looked down on Zacchaeus showed themselves to be even more lost than he was. I hope they were paying attention here. Jesus purposely chose one of the most shady characters in the city, giving him personal attention, mercy and forgiveness.
Zacchaeus found his way. Because of Jesus’ invitation, Zacchaeus realized what he didn’t before, and he repented. “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8). A happy man was he.
He wasn’t lost anymore. Jesus found him, and changed his life. Gave him a new reason to live. Filled his heart with joy.
Look for Jesus today. And let me assure you of this: he is looking for you, and promises to find you. You’re not lost, because Jesus knows exactly where you are. He forgives you, befriends you, and wants to be with you.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I don’t always see you or find you. Sometimes, I’m not even looking for you. Thank you for always seeing me, seeking me and finding me. I believe that you can change me and make me happier. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read Luke 19:1-10. Repent in meditation as you prayerfully reflect how you have exploited or used others for your own advantage. Confess that, like Zacchaeus, yes you are a sinner. Then rejoice as Jesus calls your name, invites you to come down, come away from this behavior, and come to him even as he comes to you. Ponder the significance of Jesus as your Savior, who “came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).