Zacchaeus has a problem. His dilemma is not one of unemployment; he’s the chief tax collector. His problem is not that he has financial issues; the text tells us that he’s rich. Being short in stature is not an insurmountable obstacle in this story; he finds a way to see over the crowd by climbing a tree. Living in Jericho is not an issue for him; his city is an important stop on the border of Judea. His problem is not even being hated by the Jewish community because he works for the Romans; apparently this doesn’t seem to bother him. Zacchaeus’s problem is that he does not know Jesus.
So Zacchaeus takes it upon himself to see him. No one directs him to do this. We assume he’s heard about Jesus, although we don’t know what he has heard or what he knows about him. Zacchaeus doesn’t let anything stop him from seeing this stranger who is traveling through Jericho. While it’s certainly not dignified, this professional adult, who is likely dressed in a fine robe, humbles himself to climb a tree. Evidently, his desire to see Jesus as he passes through his city is that great.
Many people like Zacchaeus live and work among us. They are curious about Jesus, but don’t know him. We should encourage them as they run ahead of the crowd and go out on a limb to seek him. We should run alongside them and find a new way to take a closer look at the one we follow. We all need a fresh encounter with Jesus.
Think about a problem you are facing. How could a fresh encounter with Jesus today change your perspective about it?
God, thank you for taking the initiative to seek me and meet me where I am. Amen.