Devotional Stories to Help us Walk with Jesus:
I Want to See Jesus
My height has always been a problem. Do you know what it’s like to grow up and always be the short straw? Kids at school called me, “runt”—undersized and weak! I just didn’t fit into any of their games. As an adult, I was tolerated, but rarely included. I was always odd-man out!
Hi, my name is Zacchaeus.
One day, I was offered a job working for the government—the Roman government—as a tax collector. Probably the worse job a Jew could possibly have. Immediately, I was labeled a “sinner” by my community. They saw me as a traitor. But, you know, I didn’t care.
Working as a tax collector for several years I did pretty well. The Romans got their tax revenue and I was free to get whatever extra I could get. I always had one of those “tall” Roman soldiers nearby, just in case I needed him. It told people that I meant business.
Some said it was fraud—dishonest! Others said I was a cheat—a low-life. I say it was just good business. Besides, for me it was pay-back time for the way I had been treated all my life. As chief tax-collector, I lived very comfortably—a very large gated home, and financially having all I need . . . but, all that was about to change. Most of all, me.
Getting ready for work, I heard a lot of commotion out in the street in front of the house. I went outside to see what was going on.
“Hey, Rebecca, what’s going on? Why are all the people gathering.”
“The rabbi is coming through Jericho this morning with his disciples. And everybody wants to see him!”
“Rabbi?” Which rabbi?”
“Rabbi Jesus! From Nazareth.”
“I’ve heard of him.”
My curiosity captured me. I want to see Jesus, too. But my odds were pretty slim with all those “tall” people in front of me filling all the empty spaces.
“Excuse me, excuse me please. Pardon me, I want to see Jesus. Excuse me!”
All that the people could see was something rustling around their feet, with a voice saying, “excuse me!” I carved a pathway to a nearby tree. One of its branches hung over the street, and, most importantly, over all the people below. It was the perfect place to see Jesus. What a view!
Then I saw Him. The crowd went wild with excitement. Praising God! As Jesus came close to the tree where I was perched, He stopped. He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, I must stay at your house today.”
I guess I didn’t even think about how Jesus knew my name. I almost jumped from the branch with joy. I quickly came down and ran back to the house to meet Him. Now when the word got around that Jesus was going to my house to spend the day, it really didn’t sit well with the people of Jericho. How could a rabbi—a holy man—not know who Zacchaeus was. A tax collector—the chief tax collector—a “sinner,” a cheat, a defrauder, a low-life?
What they thought didn’t bother me one bit. Jesus was coming to my house as my guest to spend the day. That’s all that was important to me. My servants duly served Him and His disciples—washing their feet and giving them food and drink.
It’s hard to explain, but at that point, Jesus seemed to become the host and I was His guest. He began to speak to my heart in a way that completely transformed my thinking. I felt as though I had just been given a new life. With the greatest sincerity I told Him and the others who were there, “Half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” (Did I just say that?)
Jesus looked deep within my soul and said, “Today salvation has come to this house, and to you, Zacchaeus.” He reminded me who I am—a son of Abraham, a child of promise. Then He told us all why He did what He did—“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” I guess I am included!
Today, I am one of His followers. Oh, I don’t follow Him like His other disciples, you know, walking through the countryside, but I do follow Him by the way I live. I regularly share my wealth with the poor, and my home is open for the community to enjoy. I still have my government job—a tax collector for Rome. But boy, what a difference!
The government still gets their tax revenue, but I now have the joy of helping people pay as little as possible, honestly. In fact, the word has gotten around that I am the most honest tax collector in area. Folks have to pay taxes, but they say there is no one they would rather pay their taxes to than me.
I am so thankful that I wanted to see Jesus the day I climbed that tree, but even more, I am so thankful it was the day that He wanted to see me, to change me and make me one of His followers.
Look for the next parable on October 23.
As an active member of the family at Trinity, Don is a regular contributor to Trinity’s weekly eNews letter. He enjoys writing and has authored several books, including “This Ugly Disease—A Caregiver’s Journey into Pain, Anguish and Hope.” With biblical insights, his writings provide spiritual encouragement for many. His son and daughter-in-law, Graham and Susan, are also members at Trinity.