Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 19: 1-10 (MsgB)
Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is My day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does He have getting cozy with this crook?” Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.” Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”
Yesterday, we looked at Man Number One.
It was a blind man who raised the roof in order to be found standing next to Jesus. The end result to his rowdy persistence is healed eyes and one radically transformed, saved life.
Today, Luke turns his attention to Man Number Two. As we said yesterday, it’s really too bad that the early church fathers took these two stories apart, separating them between chapters 18 and 19. But with that fact aside, let’s delve now into this second amazing story.
This second guy to encounter Jesus is a tax man. His name is Zacchaeus. He lives in Jericho and being a man who works for the government, Zach apparently enjoys the good life. Wealth and status make up for his stature. He’s short in height, but tall in worldly possessions.
Enter Jesus of Nazareth.
A whole-life makeover is about to begin.
We don’t know why Zacchaeus so desperately wants to see Jesus. In the case of the blind man back in chapter 18, we assume that he was fully aware that Jesus is a healer and with his condition, he is highly motivated to catch Jesus’ eye. Sorry, no pun intended!
But Zach, here in chapter 19, is a different situation. The only details Luke gives us about this guy is that he is a head tax man, is rich, and is short in stature. Now quite possibly Zach was hoping for Jesus to miraculously heal his ‘shortness,’ but since we have no other recorded evidence that Jesus was into this kind of physical healing, I think that explanation to be highly unlikely. And since Jesus has a track record of telling rich people that they need to sell everything in order to follow Him, I think it equally unlikely that Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus for any financial advice!
So what is it then? What draws Zacchaeus this fine day to the streets of Jericho?
Maybe it was that air of celebrity Jesus carried that causes this big-shot tax man to leave his IRS office? Knowing the right people can be important for public relations, you know. Or maybe it is just Zach’s curiosity that makes him seek out his high perch on the palm tree overlooking the avenue?
Whatever the reason, Zacchaeus is there, and the results are certainly dramatic, to say the least.
I’m guessing that Zach is a bit in shock when Jesus stops walking, looks up into the tree and calls him out by name. Now some would say that Jesus overheard the crowd making fun of little Zach, the tax man, hanging like a monkey off the nearest palm tree. But I’m guessing that Jesus is operating in what the New Testament writers would call a ‘word of knowledge.’ Jesus, who states clearly that He only does and says things that He sees the Father already doing, most likely looks up, sees this strange dude hanging from a palm tree and asks His Dad in heaven, “Who in the world is this strange guy?”
Now admittedly, this is not recorded in the text, but my sense is that the Holy Spirit whispers back to Jesus, “That’s Zacchaeus. We’re really after that guy up here in heaven. Invite yourself to his house for lunch. That should get things going quite nicely.”
Regardless of how Jesus does it, the results are phenomenal, to say the least. Zach comes down from his tree, opens up his home and his household to Jesus and everything in life is never the same. Not bad for one lunch date with the Master, huh?
So it is with Jesus.
It only takes a few moments around the Son of God to transform our lives from head to toe, inside and out, upside-down to right-side up. As the song goes, just one touch from the King changes everything.
Thank you, Luke, for giving us these two wonderful examples from the countless stories available to you. I look forward to meeting these two gents in heaven. The blind man and the tax man. Healed, saved and transformed in this life. Transported into life eternal through the amazing power and presence of Jesus of Nazareth.
Not a bad day’s work for the advancing Kingdom of God!
My prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the amazing story of transformation that happens when one man or woman responds to Jesus’ simple invitation. If a lunch date with the Son of God can make that much radical change in one man’s life, I wonder how much can change in my life if I give You my whole life. Come, Lord Jesus, dine at my home today. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What radical transformation might Jesus make in my life and household if I’d open up my home to Him more often? What would it look like for me to come out of my tree where I hide away from Jesus’ full view? Like Zacchaeus, how might my work ethics radically change if I open the door for Jesus to review that portion of my life?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?
Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!