Read His Words Before Ours!
The crowds were thick on the day I first met Yeshua Maschiach.
Jesus, the Messiah.
I craned my neck this way and that, but I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of Him.
To be honest, I didn’t understand why we were all pressing in to see this mysterious man from Nazareth. Sure, I’d heard the murmurs whisper through the town, but the stories I’d heard…
The King we had all been waiting for…the ones the prophets foretold…a carpenter?
Well, it just didn’t seem very likely.
I tried to squeeze between two burly men in front of me, but they didn’t budge an inch. Pfft.
Exasperated, I exhaled noisily.
One of them glanced over his shoulder and down at me, and I felt ire begin to rise in my chest as he chuckled under his breath.
I crossed my arms and caught his gaze boldly, daring him to speak. He turned forward again, and the moment slipped away.
What am I even doing here? I wondered, silently. Just then, my gaze drifted across a nearby sycamore tree.
Why, I could climb up there in no time, I realized.
Swiftly, I strode to the trunk and began to climb. Higher and higher, until finally, I found a somewhat comfortable spot to rest and watch. I peered through a wide opening and scanned the people below until I spied the source of all the ruckus.
He moved with a fluid, uncommon grace that somehow felt completely out of place, while also exactly right. Dozens of people surrounded him, but He seemed…unshaken. It was almost as though He walked in a bubble. Set apart, but also fully present. I watched His face as He interacted with those closest to Him. His eyes were warm; His expression compassionate. Goosebumps rippled through my skin. This man loves. He loves each one. EVERY one.
I sat up straight at the thought. Might it all be true? Something like fear and wild hope tangled in my chest and started up my throat. Could He really be the Messiah we’ve been waiting for? Blood rushed in my ears, and my heart skipped and thrummed at the thought.
The syllables were uttered at barely more than a whisper, but everything in me came to sudden, total silence.
He was speaking to me. But, how could He even see me?
I leaned forward to peer through the opening again, but He was nowhere to be seen. He must be right below me.
“Hurry and come down here, because today it is necessary for me to stay at your house.”
His voice pierced through my internal dialogue and drew me with more than a command. Before my mind had even processed the words, my hands and feet propelled me from my vantage point and plopped me right at the feet of the very man everyone was desperate to see.
I stood quickly, brushed off a few stray leaves, and straightened to my full height as my gaze traveled up to meet His. His face was broad and kind, and His dark eyes warmer than I had first surmised. His mouth hinted at a curve as we stood there, inspecting one another. Surely, He couldn’t be serious. This man? Stay at MY house?
He nodded, almost imperceptibly, and my heart swelled nearly to bursting. Joy blazed through every inch of my body, and I nearly shouted at Him. “YES, my Lord! Come to my house!” He could stay anywhere, but He chose ME. I don’t have quite the words to explain what happened inside me in that instant, but I knew I’d never be the same again. Even as the realization registered in me, murmurs of disgust and disappointment rippled through those standing all around us.
“He’s going to stay with a sinful man!” one woman hissed.
“Doesn’t he know who Zacchaeus IS?” another queried.
Tears filled my eyes. They were right. But I couldn’t allow this moment to pass. I wouldn’t.
I blinked a couple of times, then squared my shoulders and raised my eyes to meet his.
“Look, I’ll give half my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.” Please, Lord. Please choose me, still.
Yeshua stepped forward and rested a rough, tanned hand on my shoulder. An expression I couldn’t quite define crossed His strong profile, and He turned and spoke to those gathered. “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
And my friends? That’s exactly what He did. I was lost. I didn’t even know I was lost until I encountered Jesus, but when He called my name, I was utterly, irrevocably changed. He could have chosen anyone. There were dozens of others present who were more righteous and less sinful. But He chose me. And when I realized Who He was, I chose Him, too.
I gave away half of everything I owned, and I was a rich man. Half of my livestock, my riches. Half of my land, my clothing, my belongings. I returned four times what I stole from others.
I climbed a tree that day to see the man everyone claimed was the Messiah. I never expected my whole life to change in that instant. I never expected Him to pay for my sin and shame on another tree, along with everyone else’s, too. But He did. And I know He would do it all again.
For me. For you.
I am Zacchaeus.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!