Gracefully Truthful


Read His Words Before Ours!

Luke 19:1-10
Matthew 7:7-8
Isaiah 43:1-7
Revelation 3:17-20

Before I begin my story, I have a gnawing question, “How would you like it if … oh, never mind, you are probably like the rest of my people. Here, let me explain.”

As a tax collector knocking on countless doors, I consistently get the same disdainful looks. 
Generally, conversations go like this:
Me: “Hello, um, good morning.” 
Resident: “Good morning.” 
(Disgusted look upon his face)
Me: “Roman tax records list your contribution as, uh . . . ” (an incredible sum of money is discussed between us
“Um, anyway, I am here to impose this amount and collect accordingly. Please. Thank you.” (I hear, “It’s him again, the traitor?” in the background and the door slams loudly)

Doors have a way of being slammed in my face. However, I continue to the next residence. (You know, salesmen would fare much better than I!)

My own people loathe me, even detest me! They stay away, walking on the other side of the road. It would be nice to belong, even better to have friends! 

Jericho, my hometown, thrived as a fertile, spring-fed oasis nestled at the lower southern end of the Jordan Valley, just west of the Jordan River and ten miles northwest of the Dead Sea. It is considered a “gateway town,” used as a pass-through for travelers coming from Jerusalem. (Luke 10:30)

Have you heard how the Israelites walked around the Jericho walls? On the seventh day of their march, the walls fell kersplat! No one understands how, since Jericho was a secured fortress with formidable walls around the city! (Joshua 6:1-21

Generations later, God worked through a prophet named Elisha to miraculously clean Jericho’s underground spring water. (2 Kings 2:19-22) It provided for green, lush vegetation and good drinking water. Therefore, Jericho was coveted by other cities.
Why did I decide to stay and work in my little town? The history is remarkable, don’t you agree? 

Oh, my job! Well, it’s like this … my parents would have liked me to help with the family business, but young, naive me? I decided to pave my own way! 

When Rome took over the city, the government allowed Jews to retain their customs and religion, if they obeyed Roman law and paid Roman taxes. 

It was customary for Romans to allow wealthy Jews to bid to collect taxes. Most would collect their levies above the Roman taxes, then keeping the excess for themselves. (Yes, this is the route I went, deciding to become a tax collector. Simultaneously, I became a symbol of Roman oppression and began to betray and cheat my own people.) So, now you understand why little ol’ me is alone, without friends. 

Curiously, during my everyday walk around the city today, I’m hearing people whisper about a Man whom crowds follow and hang on His every word. This seems incredible since no one listens to me! He even gathers children and lovingly teaches them! Everyone seems excited to experience His presence.

News is spreading that this Man will pass through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem. Throngs of people would be trailing Him, but this is an experience I don’t want to miss! I will do whatever I can to see this Man.  

It’s today! Hop! Jump! Jump! Hop! Why were all these people so tall?! I’d hurry through the crowd to catch a glimpse of Him, but I’m trapped.

Thinking quickly, I spot a tall sycamore tree! I hop onto the tree limb and swiftly climb above the crowds; approaching my tree, the Man looks me in the eye, and calls my name! 

Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today it is necessary for Me to stay at your house.” (Luke 19:5, emphasis mine)

Imagine how I felt! Jesus, the source of Living Water fresher than any Jericho could boast, was coming to my house! (John 7:38) Was I excited? No! Ecstatic? Yes!  

Dining with Jesus was incredible, I hung on His every word. Then, it happened, I began to understand that although we are all sinners, Jesus invites us, “Come, sit, and eat at My table!” (Romans 3:23-4; Isaiah 55:1-5) My spirit stirred, and I pledged to exponentially repay what I’d stolen from my neighbors. And I did. 

Wait . . . wait…don’t go!
Do you, my sweet friends, not have a song written in my name?
Come, sing with me.

Zacchaeus (that’s me!) was a wee little man (Hey, you calling me “shorty”?)
A wee little man was he (Look, you don’t have to continue name-calling!)
He climbed up in a sycamore tree (Wouldn’t you? Don’t worry, it’s a stable tree. It’ll hold!)
For the Lord, he wanted to see (Do you blame me? All the talk would have encouraged you to do whatever it took to see Him!)
And as the Savior passed that way (He’s tired, I am sure!)
He looked up in the tree (How did He see? … His eyes reached into my soul.)
And He said, (He said my name! He called ME by name!)
And, then, He practically, well, lovingly, ordered me from the tree.

(Before I go, I urge you to look up sycamore tree, and read about rejuvenation and regeneration! While you’re at it, research Jericho’s underground spring. Wade through the symbolism!)

Insecure to Secure in Jesus
a cardboard testimony from the author

So often, I have felt unseen, unheard, and unloved. I wasn’t popular; my family was poor; I longed for a friend. Oh, I was the “cheerleader,” “the musician,” and “the A+ average bookworm,” but those did not fill me. 

Building walls around my heart, I was seeking the crowds, but not finding the One. Until…He called my name, declaring, “You are chosen, you belong to Me; follow Me!” (1 Peter 2:9)

From then on, He moved me from insecure to secure in Jesus (Psalm 73:23); from ignored to seen by Him. (Psalm 139:13-16) Like Zacchaeus, those walls I’d built around my heart came crashing down! I belonged to the One who saw me, heard me, and loved me. 

By climbing the sycamore tree, Zacchaeus positioned himself for a life-changing encounter with Jesus. For me, leaning into my family positioned me for my life-changing realization that Jesus is my security!  

Check out these worship songs, connected to today’s study!
Spirit of the Living God”  Meredith Andrews
Come to the Table”  Sidewalk Prophets

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