If you grew up in church, went to Sunday school, or had a bible story book growing up; then you know the story of Zaccheus. He was the wee tree climber who wanted to see! It is one of those stories that we have heard countless times and you kind of go on autopilot when someone speaks on it in a sermon. I know I’m guilty of that at times. I was studying this passage a few months ago for children’s camp and the Holy Spirit gave me a fresh perspective on the passage. It was powerful for the kids and forever changed the way I looked at the tiny man that met Jesus. I want to share that with you and I hope it speaks into your struggles.
Luke 19:1-10 is where this story is located if you want to check it out. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be? Is there anything that you absolutely hate about yourself? We are introduced to Zaccheus and we find out some pretty interesting details about his life as a “grown” man. He was a chief tax collector, very rich, a small framed man, and later we would discover his hidden talent of tree climbing. This was Zaccheus’ reality as a man. But have you ever considered what it was like for Zaccheus as a child? Typically speaking, small men are not real big as little boys. He was probably small then too. I’m sure the other children reminded him of his size all the time. It is a good possibility that they picked on him and made his life very difficult growing up. I could see them taking his things and throwing it into high tree branches so it would be hard for his to get his stuff down. It could have been really easy for Zaccheus to take the pain to heart and if left unchecked he would become bitter. Which I believe opens up to the possibility as to why he chose the occupation he did.
Zaccheus was a chief tax collector. If you are unfamiliar with that term, it basically means he was an upper management IRS agent. He would collect taxes for the Romans from his own people. He would’ve been despised by everyone. Apparently, he was good at what he did because the text says he was very rich and he would have had other people working under him. I believe Zaccheus’ decision to become a tax collector may have been a revenge pick. He could inflict financial pain on all the people who had reminded him of his size and made his young life so miserable. Every time a person from his past came to pay taxes to the Romans, Zaccheus would jack up the rates to inflict pain on those that had possibly hurt him. If they refused, Zaccheus could’ve had them imprisoned by the Roman guards. Things seemed to be looking up for Zaccheus, but something still seemed to be missing (outside of height!)
One day a man came to town. People took notice when this man rolled up to town. He was known as a healer, miracle worker, and great teacher. There was always a large crowd surrounded around Him. It peaked Zaccheus’ attention, but Zaccheus couldn’t see through the crowd because of his height. So out of desperation, Zaccheus ran on ahead and channeled his little boy ability to climb a large tree. He probably hadn’t climbed a tree in years because of the painful memories. That day, Zaccheus didn’t care. He was desperate to see this man and see what all the fuss was about. Zaccheus thought Jesus would pass right under him and continue on his journey. But Jesus got right under the Zaccheus branch and stopped. Jesus spoke to him and invited himself over to Zaccheus’ house. I bet Zaccheus about fell out of the tree. Jesus knew Zaccheus’ name and everything about Zaccheus. This is one of the most beautiful pictures in this story.
God would use the thing that Zaccheus probably hated about himself, so that he could separate him from the crowd and have a moment with Jesus!
If Zaccheus would’ve been the same height as everyone else, he would have just blended into the crowd. But God used his height disadvantage to get him close to Jesus. That is really cool. When I think about the things I dislike about myself, I never think of it as way that God has made me to be set part for his purposes. I usually just despise them and try to change them. But what if God was trying to use that so that I could have a moment or several moments with him. He may have made you that way so that you would run to him for healing and restoration. That is what God was going to do for Zaccheus (We will look at that next week.)
So real talk now, when was the last time that you thanked God for what you dislike about yourself? Have you stopped and considered how he might actually use it for something good and it might draw you closer to Him? Or you can keep trying fix it yourself, making you and those around you miserable, and miss a meeting with God? I have things I would love to change about myself. My hair line is receding, I have some pesky belly fat that refuses to go away, I cut off my own finger ( I’d like to have it back), and I’m not tall enough to play basketball in the NBA. But that is how God made me. In despising those things, I am subconsciously rejecting God. This is His plan for my life and I am rejecting Him and that plan. So if I have learned anything from Zaccheus, it is to be grateful in all things because God will use it to draw me closer and have some sweet time with Him.
So what are you despising or stressing over about yourself? Why not try being thankful? Where do you need to start today? How can I pray for you about this? Do you need some encouragement? I would love to help!
Grace and Peace to you as you become grateful for all the things you don’t like about yourself. Praise Jesus for wrinkles, HAHA!