My breath sawed in and out, finally slowing down several minutes after being in the tree. I felt fidgety-excited, nervous…hopeful. But for what? I really couldn’t say. Probably some lame thought that Jesus would look up, see me, and recognize me somehow. Then everyone would see…what? That I’m not really so bad? That I’m really trying hard to do what’s right? That if someone like Jesus chose someone like me, then there must be something good somewhere in me. I don’t know.
So many unrealized hopes. Much of my life makes me shake my head. The reality is, no matter what I do, someone is offended with me. I went into tax collecting for the money. I had no idea I’d end up with just as many enemies as I have coins. I’d do that differently if I could.
Here he comes. Seriously, I’ve got to loosen up here! I’m like a kid hoping to be noticed by the rabbi. He’s directly below me now, talking to that woman who won’t let him be! Will he…?
“Zacchaeus! What are you doing up there? Come on down! Don’t you know it would be my delight to have dinner with you today?”
What?! He’s talking to me! What?! I’ve got to get out of this tree! Move faster! He’s waiting! My robes are getting caught on the branches of the tree…I can’t get loose! Ok, I’m finally past the last…oof!
The silence is loud as I hit the ground right at Jesus’ feet. Like a 9-year-old, I begin stammering. What’s gotten into me? It’s like the minute I come face to face with Jesus I have to let him know I’m trying to be worthy, that he won’t be disappointed for choosing me… that I won’t let him down.
Now I’m aware of the crowd. They‘re muttering under their breath and glaring at me. “Why on earth would you pick him? He’s the guy who takes all our money. Why are you going to his house?”
The accusations sound like they’re coming from a distance because Jesus’ eyes haven’t left mine yet. It’s as if there’s no one else around and a private conversation is happening all through our eyes. I feel like he’s telling me that it’s ok. That I’m ok. That he knows…everything…and I’m still ok with him.
Something substantive begins to form in me as we walk to my house. I’m sought after. I’m believed in. I’m chosen. I didn’t think those words would ever apply to me. But here I am, walking with Jesus to my house…
ACTION: Zacchaeus’ story is found in Luke 19. How would you describe the God who is with you based on this story? What does this do to your sense of how He is with you?