If you grew up in church, you know and sang about Zacchaeus. In Luke 19, Jesus was entering Jericho. The crowds had gathered around Him as He was walking through town. They wanted to see a miracle, hear a sermon and to see what important religious person He would visit with. Some even thought He was going to start a revolution with Rome that very moment. The crowd was so big, and Zacchaeus was not very tall. He saw where Jesus was headed and ran up ahead in front of the crowd. He found a sycamore tree to climb in so that he could just see Jesus. When Jesus arrived to that spot, He looked up and saw Zacchaeus , He told him to come down so He could stay at his house. The people were mad because Zacchaeus wasn’t a religious person at all. In fact he was despised by people because he worked for Rome and stole money from his own people as the chief tax collector. When he saw Jesus, and Jesus saw him, everything changed including his heart.
Two things stand out to me in this familiar story. The first is that Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus and was willing to do anything to see Him. How hungry and determined are you to see Jesus? Like so many before him, he wanted to get a glimpse of God. Moses was that way too. In Exodus 33:18-19 Moses said, “‘Please, show me your glory!’And God said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the Name of the Lord before you; for I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion (lovingkindness) on whom I will show compassion’” (AMP) When we are determined to see God, He will show up with His glory and presence. He wants to be found, and will reveal Himself to those who seek Him.
The second thing I noticed in this story is that Zacchaeus was proactive and anticipated where Jesus was headed. Many of us try to go where He has been, but Zacchaeus ran ahead and waited on the Lord. In Matthew 5:8 Jesus said, “Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.” When we anticipate God’s presence, we will see Him and He will see us. What is God wanting to do around you today? Where is He headed? Go and start being the hands and feet of Him there. Remember the laborers are few. There’s a lot God wants to do, but He needs us to know His heart, anticipate where He wants to reveal Himself and start there. When you start loving people there, God will show up and you will see Him.
If you’ve ever had to do cold calling for sales, you know that step one is to try to get past the gatekeeper. The person who answers the phone at a business has the job of making sure only good calls get through. They try to protect the boss from as many sales calls as possible in order to protect their time. The disciples fell into this type of thinking when it came to Jesus. When the little children wanted to see Him, they tried to prevent it. I’m sure there were thousands who wanted to get close to Him, so they adopted a gatekeeper mentality.
In Luke 18:35-43, Jesus was about to walk into Jericho. The disciples and a huge crowd were around Him. A blind man heard the commotion and called out to Jesus. The crowd tried to hush him, but he got louder. Finally Jesus heard him and asked him what he wanted. He said, “Lord, I want to see!” (NLT) Jesus healed him and then went into Jericho going throughout the town. As he passed down one street, there was another man who wanted to see, but he couldn’t because of the crowd. Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He offered to go to his house. The same crowd of Jesus’ followers was displeased and let Jesus know it. Zacchaeus wasn’t worthy of Jesus’ time or grace in their eyes.
Jesus responded in Luke 19:9-10, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” It was a reminder to them and to us that we are not His gatekeepers. Our job isn’t to keep people from Him, but to lead them to Him. We must lose the mentality that sees people as unworthy or beyond His grace. We all have a need for it and He died so that none would perish. Just because someone sins differently than you, it doesn’t disqualify them from the forgiveness He offers. We need to lose the gatekeeper mentality and usher as many people as we can to Him.
As a kid, one of my favorite Bible stories and songs was about Zacchaeus from Luke 19. As you may recall, he wasn’t very tall and was struggling to see Jesus over the crowd. After trying several things, he climbed up a tree in order to see Jesus. I love that when He saw Jesus, Jesus saw him and rewarded his tenacity by meeting with him in his home. Zacchaeus became a changed man because he sought Jesus until He could find Him. The same should be true of us. We should be continually seeking Him, looking for Him and meeting with Him. Zacchaeus isn’t a children’s story. It’s a reminder for us to tenaciously seek Jesus.
Here are some Bible verses on seeking Jesus.
1. I love those who love me; whoever looks for me can find me.
Proverbs 8:17 GNT
2. “[Looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].
Hebrews 12:2 AMP
3. Yahweh looks down in love, looking over all of Adam’s sons and daughters. He’s looking to see if there is anyone who acts wisely, any who are searching for God and wanting to please him.
Psalms 14:2 TPT
4. “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. “I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.”
Jeremiah 29:13-14 MSG
5. There you will look for the Lord your God, and if you search for him with all your heart, you will find him.
Deuteronomy 4:29 GNT
Are you still seeking Him like Zacchaeus? Is He still making a difference in your life?