You've met them before, whether in real life or reel life. The nasty little men whom no one likes (except hopefully their wives and children, if they have them). Something about their arrogant, smarmy manner stirs up a feeling akin to a distasteful hairball in your heart. You would like nothing better than to have nothing to do with them. They are that despicable.
And then you remember. You groan as you remember, but you remember.
They, too, are made in God's image and are precious in His sight.
Yeah, I know. It would be much easier to continue disdaining them than to pray for them, to continue disliking them than to love them, to continue ignoring them than to engage them.
Zaccheus was a member of this club. A despised tax gatherer. Rich. Short. He brings to mind Louie in the television sitcom 'Taxi' and Russell in the reality show 'Survivor' and Gollum in 'The Lord of the Rings.' People we love to hate. It's not hard to imagine why not many, if any, in the town of Jericho ranked him high on their list of friends.
This nasty little man had a heart hungry for Jesus. Zaccheus had heard He was passing through, and he would do whatever it took just to catch a glimpse of this marvelous man. Climb up a tree? No sweat. If he had to humiliate himself in front of the milling crowd by scrambling awkwardly and clumsily up the branches, huffing and puffing in the process, so be it. He didn't hesitate. Zaccheus probably figured this might be his only opportunity to see the man his whole world was buzzing about.
Would we be willing to ditch our pride like Zaccheus just to encounter Jesus?
When Jesus neared the sycamore, He looked up and called this nasty little man by name, bidding him to hurry and come down, for He would be staying at his house that day. Oh, yeah, that was a big hit with the righteous rabble. They had the audacity to grumble about Jesus hanging out with a sinner. Their hardened hearts, deafened ears, and blinded eyes prevented them from understanding that that was what this Jesus did. He hung out with sinners. He ate with sinners. He loved sinners. Disgusting. Scandalous.
But the story doesn't end there. One thing remained. Jesus called, but Zaccheus needed to respond. Accept or decline? He scrambled down that tree with gusto and received Jesus gladly. Setting aside whatever plans he had for the day and ignoring the taunts and jeers, Zaccheus readily accepted the Lord's invitation.
One life was changed forever that day in Jericho. A nasty little man who was lost became a son of Abraham who was found.
Jesus is calling our names today. Will we seek His face? Will we do whatever it takes to catch a glimpse and to commune with Him? He is standing at the foot of the sycamore, bidding us to come down and dine with Him. Not just for a day or two, but for eternity. Will we accept His invitation?
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. ~ Luke 19:10