Have you ever read a Bible story and imagined yourself in the place of the main character? You think, “that could be me!”
Some people may see themselves as a leader like Moses, courageous like Joshua, wise like Solomon, or brave and determined like Paul. Others may see themselves more like Peter; bold and outspoken.
I wonder how many of us see ourselves like Jonah, who ran from God’s call on his life? Or like Jacob who deceived his father and brother all in an effort to get ahead?
One person most of us probably don’t identify with is a man Luke tells us about; Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector (Luke 19:1-10).
Zacchaeus is described as the chief tax collector in the city of Jericho. He was a Jew who had become rich by extorting more money in taxes from his fellow Jews than required by Rome.
He was small in stature, an outcast despised by his own people.
Despite his wealth and influence with Rome, there was something missing in his life. When he heard that Jesus was passing through town he wanted to see him. He was too short amidst the crowd following Jesus to see him, so Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a tree to get a better look at this man, Jesus, that he had heard so much about.
As Jesus approached the tree where Zacchaeus was, Jesus called him by name and told him to come down because he was going to stay at Zacchaeus’ house. So Zacchaeus scampered down and received Jesus joyfully.
While the crowd muttered against Jesus for staying with a sinner like Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus jumped down and immediately announced he would give half of everything he owned to the poor and pay back four times the amount of anything he had cheated out of others.
Jesus said salvation had come to the house of Zacchaeus that day. The Son of Man had come to seek and save that which was lost.
5 Lessons from the story of Zacchaeus
1) He was searching. Money and influence were not enough. Zacchaeus knew there was something missing in his life.
2) He was determined. Something in Zacchaeus drove him to set aside his pride, rush ahead of the crowd, and climb a tree just so he would have a chance to see Jesus.
3) Jesus came to him. Despite being surrounded by a crowd, Jesus came to Zacchaeus and dealt with him as an individual.
4) Jesus knew him. Jesus not only called Zacchaeus by name, but He knew the condition of his heart.
5) He responded to Jesus immediately. When Jesus called out to Zacchaeus, he jumped down immediately and responded to Jesus with rejoicing. He publicly repented of his sins against his people. He promised to give away half of his fortune and to make restitution to those he had cheated.
Zacchaeus was desperate to see Jesus, but at the same time, Jesus was on his way to meet Zacchaeus. The Lord knew Zacchaeus’ heart and he responded just as the Lord knew he would. The world may have despised or even hated Zacchaeus. But the Lord saw him through a different lens; one that saw his repentant heart and his desire to know the Lord.
Many of us are searching for the something that is missing in our lives. We work hard to accumulate wealth, power, and influence only to find that they are not enough. Then we go searching for what will fill that God-shaped hole in our lives.
Hopefully, when Jesus comes to us we will put away our pride, greet Him with rejoicing, repent of our sins, and follow him as the Great Shepherd!
The Lord knows His sheep and they recognize His voice (John 10:14).
Join the Conversation
As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever imagined yourself in the place of a Bible character? If so, who and what about that character did you identify with?
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Category: Personal Development | Character