Jericho erupted with the excitement of Jesus’ arrival. He just healed the blind men, and everyone wanted to see Him. As the crowds flooded the streets, Zaccheus rushed to see Him too. But he had a problem. He was too short to see over the heads in the crowd. This was worse, because he was a chief tax collector. All the years of getting rich at the expense of his neighbors, had earned him many enemies. When he tried to wiggle through the crowd to inch closer to Jesus, several shoulders and elbows blocked his way.
Lonely Zaccheus desperately surveyed the situation. How could he get close enough to Jesus? Then he saw the perfect solution! Since he could tell where Jesus was headed, he rushed ahead to a stately sycamore tree stretching above the road. He managed to climb into the lower branches before Jesus arrived. He didn’t care what anyone thought of him. All he wanted was a glimpse of Jesus. (Besides all eyes were on Jesus. Who would look up into the tree?)
When Jesus arrived, He looked up at Zaccheus. He called him by name. Did Zaccheus grip the branch tighter in shock? Then Jesus told him to come down because He wanted to visit in his home. Very few people wanted to visit his home, but Jesus wanted to spend time with him. Jesus cared about him.
Zaccheus scurried down and gladly received Jesus into his home. He prepared a great meal for Jesus and his disciples. Spending time with Jesus convicted him. So he announced that he would give half his wealth to the poor and repay anyone he stole from fourfold. Then Jesus proclaimed that salvation had come to his home.
Zaccheus is the last new person recorded by the gospel writers that Jesus reached out to during his earthly ministry.
Zaccheus had been lost, but Jesus sought him out. Suddenly all Zaccheus’ wealth meant nothing compared to knowing and following Jesus. His loyalty shifted from love of money to love of Jesus. He would never be the same. Of all the people in busy Jericho, Jesus chose Zaccheus. I believe Jesus knew his heart was open yearning for God. The closer we move to Jesus, the more our affections change. Is there anything in your life standing between you and a deeper relationship with Him? If so, let it go. Once you release it, you will be so grateful you are free of it, as you embrace a deeper fuller life in Jesus.