Jesus entered the city gates of Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. A wealthy man was there. Everyone in that city knew who he was–an infamous and unscrupulous businessman. He was the head of those who purged taxes out of everyone on behalf of the Roman oppressors. Like a greedy farmer milking the cash cow. He was the kind of man who people, after they said his name, spat on the ground to get rid of the bitter taste of it. He was the kind of man children mimicked in the street. The kind of man nobody wanted at their door. In short, he had a chronic case of small-man syndrome.
On this day he wanted to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he could not see above the crowd and could not force his way to the front. Forgetting himself he ran ahead excitedly (and well-to-do Jewish men never ran) and climbed a well-established fig-tree. In desiring to catch a glimpse of Jesus, this man of puffed up self-importance reduced himself to the place of a child. And that’s right where Jesus sought him out. Unexpectedly, Jesus stopped and looked up under the sycamore-fig tree. He spoke directly to this little man, using his given name, just like a child. But there was a dignity and a grace and esteem about how Jesus called to him. This was an urgent invite to an intimate reception.
“Zacchaeus, c’mon down here! I really must go with you to your home. We need to enjoy company at your table, share your cup and eat from the same loaf of bread. C’mon then.”
So Zacchaeus came down right there and then, and the two embraced like old friends. Zacchaeus then led the way to his house almost giddy with delight, like a spring lamb.
Everyone who had witnessed this reacted harshly, moaning to one another: “Jesus has lost all sense–he has entered the door of this waste-of-space, slap-his-mother ‘sinner’! Could he stoop any lower?”
Unexpectedly, Zacchaeus rose up and addressed the Master. “See Lord – right here I divide my wealth in half with the destitute and those I have extorted I will repay the amount four times over. I’ll see to it myself.”
Jesus said to him:
“Witness history this day – salvation is here in this room, because this man is a child and rightful heir of Abraham!
“Let me, the Divine Man, come to search out and welcome in, every last one, who is lost to their own, true way.”
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