How a Small, Godless Man Can Go Up and Come Down to Christ
It’s easy to walk past a miracle and never look up. The true account of Zaccheus’ encounter with Jesus is well known: the small, despised tax collector who climbed up in a Jericho tree to see Christ (Luke 19:1-10). But this small story is recorded to teach us big lessons about God’s ways in salvation.
- Never misjudge a man’s potential.
The crowd, perhaps even the disciples, would never pick Zaccheus as a potential disciple. His size made him naturally overlooked; his occupation made him naturally suspicious. But Jesus never sees as a man sees.
Don’t ever be guilty of vain and destructive judgments about any man. Only pride makes us think more highly of ourselves than the most despised.
- Never marginalize a man’s passion.
Zaccheus did some things a respectable Jew would never do. He ran; he climbed up in a tree like a school boy.
When God has created hunger in a man, you will be amazed at what he might do to get to Jesus. All decorum is forgotten when a man is ignited by a curious, God-initiated passion to see Christ.
- Never misunderstand Christ’s pursuit.
Jesus came to the tree, looked up, and called Zaccheus by name. “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (NASB).
What stuns us about this story is the directness of Christ’s approach toward this neglected man—His deliberate, personal intentionality. With hundreds around him, He was aimed precisely toward Zaccheus. There was no stopping Jesus.
Christ is pursuing people. All the time. All around us. The reason for anyone’s initial interest in Christ is God’s gracious drawing prior to their interest (John 6:44).
Never forget that there are men and women, boys and girls around you (ones you might never suspect) who have been prepared to believe. You must go to them, look up, call them by name, and invite them down to Jesus.
- Never minimize Christ’s power.
Within seconds this man was saved, and then gave glorious, fruitful evidence of a changed heart. Why such visible repentance? Zaccheus had looked to Christ in faith, and God’s power had changed his heart of stone. He was a new creature, and old things passed away like the morning fog before a full sun. He vowed to give half of his possessions to the poor and repay those he’d cheated four-fold.
Can a man—any man—change that dramatically that quickly? Absolutely, when Christ’s power is present to save.
- Never miss Christ’s purpose.
Of all the hundreds who came to Christ, why is this man’s story recorded for all time? It is an urgent reminder for those of us who completely forget His agenda in the midst of a busy, self-centered world.
“The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Not only does He seek, He eternally saves those He seeks.
And He can accomplish this transformation in the most common, daily moments with the most curious, unlikely people. A walk through a neighborhood resulted in an eternally changed life, and a testimony that has been speaking for 2,000 years.
In our common passion for revival, never forget that the endgame is the rapid expansion of the gospel to those who need Jesus—a nationwide spiritual awakening. That is Christ’s purpose. And if we are to follow Him, it must be ours.