Climbing Higher to See Jesus
Day: 25 | Plan: Luke
Today’s Reading: Luke 19:1-27
Luke 19:9-10 (NIV) “Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”
I’m so glad Jesus came to save imperfect people who don’t have it all together. I’m glad He chose to love and seek out someone like me who messes up a lot and desperately needs His presence and guidance in my life. What about you? Do you ever feel second-rate, unworthy, mediocre at best? If so, I have great news for you today.
Throughout the Gospel of Luke we see several examples where Jesus was drawn to those who wore the labels of not good enough. Jesus deeply loved and had compassion for those considered by many to be outcasts, untouchable and disposable by society. Part of His mission was to seek them out and remove those labels once and for all.
Zacchaeus was one of those outcasts. He was a Jewish man who worked for the Roman government as a chief tax collector, gathering high taxes from locals and scraping off a heavy portion of commissions to fill his deep, wealthy pockets. Zacchaeus was not only considered a cheater and traitor, but there’s a good chance he was ridiculed because of his small stature. What he lacked in size he made up for in personal gain.
In today’s reading, Scripture tells us Jesus was passing through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem. He had just healed a blind man who was sitting on the road outside of the city. By the time Jesus made it into the city, Zacchaeus couldn’t see Him because of the towering crowds. So Zacchaeus did something unconventional and totally out of character for a Roman government official.
In the passage we see three distinct choices Zacchaeus made, which show us God was stirring his heart and moving him towards salvation. God was actively working behind the scenes, shifting the thoughts and attitude of this crooked tax collector—preparing his spirit for a great encounter with Jesus.
1. Zacchaeus persevered to a higher place to see Jesus.
Zacchaeus could have settled and simply had someone else in the crowd tell him what Jesus looked like. He could have made excuses for his physical limitations, but he didn’t. Could it be there was more at play than simple curiosity? Zacchaeus was determined to get a closer look at this Miracle Worker and did something bold and courageous—even though others probably thought it was undignified. Climbing a tree would give him a clearer view of Jesus. (Luke 19:3-4)
2. Zacchaeus responded to Jesus’ call with a right attitude.
Zacchaeus’ determination paid off. Jesus not only noticed Zaccheaus in the tree, Jesus sought him out by calling: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5b). Zacchaeus could have stayed up in the tree, shaking like a leaf because of all the sinful choices he’d made and all the people in the crowd he had cheated. Instead, Zacchaeus obeyed Jesus with an attitude of gladness—a response birthed from a heart filling up with faith, not skepticism or disbelief. (Luke 19:6) The word “gladly” in the original text is chairōn and means “rejoicing.” That’s right. Zacchaeus was rejoicing because Jesus called him out.
3. Zacchaeus announced his change of heart and new lifestyle.
The word repentance isn’t directly used in the text, but I believe that’s exactly what Zacchaeus was doing when he said to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8b). The word “repent” means to “change one’s mind, accompanied by a true change of heart towards God and change of action.”
Our biggest clue that repentance was in play is by observing Jesus’ response: “Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’” (Luke 19:9-10).
I am so grateful that our Lord and Savior came to seek and save the lost. To notice the unnoticeables. To draw near to the outcasts. To accept the rejected. He speaks life into our present circumstances and truth into our future, instead of condemning us of our past sins.
Every day we have an opportunity to reach higher and see Jesus clearer as we pursue a deeper relationship with Him. Will we choose to respond to His call with a right attitude? Are we willing to repent of our wrong ways and press forward in a lifestyle that is honoring to Him?
Prayer: Lord, even when I can’t clearly see evidence of Your activity, I trust that You are still behind the scenes working out things on my behalf and drawing me closer to You. On those days when I feel like an outcast, remind me how You’ve created my life with great purpose. In those empty moments when I feel discredited or disposable, give me strength to hold onto the truth that You love me and have called me Your own. In Jesus’ name, amen.
You might be surprised to know the name Zacchaeus means “pure.” Could it be that... Read More
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