July 7 I Wednesday
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.” —Luke 19:1-3
If we knew a famous celebrity was going to pass by a certain part of our city, would we not be eager to go find a place along the side of the road just to catch a glimpse of them? This was exactly what Zacchaeus did when he heard that Jesus would be passing through Jericho. This event happened near the end of Jesus’s public ministry, so there was a growing swell of people who wanted to know this person that everybody was talking about. Like everybody else, Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but he had one little problem—he was physically too short. Noticing a sycamore-fig tree along the path that Jesus would take, Zacchaeus quickly hurried over to that tree, and started climbing, excited to see the man that everyone had been raving about.
It is fascinating that Zacchaeus was willing to go to any length to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Zacchaeus was a notorious, wealthy and influential man, but he was willing to put that all aside, humble himself and climb a tree to see Jesus. What was Zacchaeus’s reputation? For starters, he was a tax collector for Rome. During the New Testament times, tax collectors were notoriously corrupt for extracting resources from their own people, typically asking for more money than required and getting their own cut from the surplus. Zacchaeus, however, was not just any tax collector; he was the chief tax collector. In other words, Zacchaeus sat at the top of this whole taxing scheme, as there were a number of tax collectors within the city of Jericho and the region that reported to him. Zacchaeus was an extremely wealthy man who ran in circles with the Romans and Herod the Great. Hence, Zacchaeus was despised by his own people, because his money came off the backs of his own countrymen.
For a man well-known for his corruption, what we could admire about Zacchaeus was that he did not care about the crowd or his reputation; he simply wanted to catch a glimpse of Jesus. The tenacity of Zacchaeus revealed how desperate he was to see Jesus, which begs us to reflect and ask ourselves these questions: How desperate are we to be with Jesus? What lengths are we willing to go to? What things get in the way of our experiencing Him? What “crowds” are a barrier between us and Jesus? What are we willing to do to overcome them?
May we recognize, like Zacchaeus, how desperately we need Jesus and be willing to overcome whatever barriers it takes for us to meet Him.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, thank You for meeting me in my desperate search for You. Help me to overcome whatever barrier keeps me from drawing near. Praise You!