Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) was a leader among tax collectors. He could afford great jewelry and fine clothes. His position allowed him to charge the people of Jericho more than they owed. Everyone knew he skimmed off the top. They feared this little man.
But this little man had a secret—he wanted more. He had a need. A nagging in his heart that rubies or fine spices couldn’t satisfy. When he heard that this man Jesus was coming to town, he knew he had to talk to him. See him.
Zacchaeus left his tax collecting table for the place where he thought he’d have his chance to see him.
Drat. He’d already passed. He needed to guess … which road would he take? To see Jesus he’d have to take a gamble and run ahead. Hopefully he’d guess right and get there before Jesus arrived. But where to go?
He had an idea. By the Sycamore tree. That’s where he’d wait. He’d have an opportunity to talk with him, for sure.
But when Zacchaeus got to the Sycamore tree, other people were waiting there for Jesus, too. Double drat. What could he do now? He wanted—needed—to see this Man of God for himself.
Zacchaeus looked back down the road and saw a crowd walking his way. Was Jesus surrounded by all those people? How could Zacchaeus make his way through so many people? He was so short … he’d be lost in the crowd for sure.
He looked around. There—the tree! He could climb the Sycamore tree and at least have a look at him … this man who heals. Zacchaeus wasn’t sure what he’d gain by just seeing him, but it had to be enough.
The crowd came closer and Zacchaeus could hear their voices. Begging for Jesus’ attention. All coming at him with requests. Needs. Everyone had a need.
He had a need.
Zacchaeus sighed. What’s the use? He had been fooling himself. He may be rich, but his wealth cost him more than he planned. He had treated people terribly. And now he was going to miss his chance to ask this Jesus for what he wanted most: peace. He needed peace. But it wasn’t to be.
The crowd milled then stopped under the branches of the Sycamore tree. Jesus hushed the crowd with his hands. They waited, anticipating divine wisdom from Jesus. Instead, He looked up.
“Good day, Zacchaeus.”
Zacchaeus caught his breath. “Um … good day to you, teacher.”
Jesus smiled. “Why are you in the tree?”
He felt foolish. “I wanted to see you. I’m so small.” He cleared his throat. “I really wanted to talk with you … I thought maybe you could help me. But you’re busy. Everyone wants to ask you for something.”
Jesus continued to smile as he held out his hand. “Zacchaeus. Come down. I’m coming to your house today. I’m going to stay with you. We can talk about your lack of peace then.”
Is this how it began? I put a bit of flesh to the story, but it could have happened that way.
How diligent are you chasing after Jesus? What are you willing to do to find peace?