March 20, 2022
Scripture Reading: Luke 19:1-10
I love this guy, Zacchaeus! I don’t know why. He wouldn’t have been 6-foot Randy Newman’s favorite, whose song “Short People” spent 2 weeks on #1 spot of top ten in 1978.
Short people got no reason To live
They got little hands And little eyes
And they walk around Tellin’ great big lies
They got little noses And tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes On their nasty little feet
Well, I don’t want no short people Don’t want no short people ‘Round here
But Randy Newman or no, I like this guy Zacchaeus – and not because he was such a perfect specimen of a human being. He wasn’t. He was a Jew in a Jewish land collecting taxes for the occupying Romans. He wasn’t honest! Like most tax collectors, he cheated and stole and got rich doing it. He was hated and for good reason. AND HE WAS SHORT – vertically challenged!
Us short people, we have one head start over some other folk. We KNOW we are short because you can’t hide short! Other defects, disadvantages and character disorders can be at least partially hidden behind boasting exaggerations, money, and power – hidden so that even the person themselves never owns them and deals with them.
But short people – they can’t hide their flaws – so when they want to see over the crowd, they just CLIMB A TREE! Which is exactly what Zacchaeus did when he saw Jesus approach with a whole array of people between him and the Master!
You see, Zacchaeus had another problem: He was lost – and he knew it! His life was out of whack! He was doing things that he knew were destructive. He was headed nowhere and going nowhere with a lot of money that wasn’t really doing him any good! He didn’t belong – of his own doing. He had alienated himself from his own people. He was an outcast and an object of scorn. He was alone! His spiritual self-had been ignored and sidelined.
But now we get to the part of Zacchaeus that I like. He had enough sense to realize that what he needed was not more money or power, but he needed to re-order his life with God in mind! And… when he saw Jesus, he knew that this man could help him get it all straight again and HE JUST HAD TO MAKE A MOVE!
Do you know what that moment is like when you are aware that THIS IS YOUR TIME TO GET SOME THINGS BACK IN ORDER? It feels like a moment that will only pass your way just this once and you need to grab it! This moment is bigger than a new car or a new job or a big advancement of some sort. This is about the deepest stuff life ever slides our way!
And Zacchaeus got himself directly in Jesus’ path where he could see without all of the obstructions that the crowd offered. And sure enough – their eyes met and Zacchaeus was never the same again!
Now I don’t know what you’ve been taught about a conversion experience but THIS IS ONE. No formulas, no special postures, no statements of belief, no pre-designed place.
The transformational experience is an honest encounter of a broken person who has finally come to himself and has decided now is the moment – NOW is the crossroad – with the living, engaged, compassionate eyes of Jesus. And one big, ready, YES!!!
That is the transformational moment and the repentance is just as natural a result as it is for the dawn to break through the night sky morning after morning! Standing next to this Jesus who knew God well enough to call him Father, Zacchaeus was able to SEE what he could not see moments before. How can you NOT feel regret and sorrow?
“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.”
And Jesus said: “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 the lost.”
The Good News, the Gospel, is just that simple and just that complex. Nobody could have staged that encounter! Who would have thought it possible? You can’t program it! You can’t reduce it to 5 steps! You can’t talk somebody into it!
But it sure is fun to watch! Go Zacchaeus!!