(The second of a series of posts from a message on October 30 based on Luke 19:1-10.)
Zacchaeus was smart. He knew how to find people who were avoiding him. He was a tax collector after all. He figured out the route that Jesus would take through town, a town between 40 and 50 thousand people.
And then he figured out the best way to see.
When I was a kid, we learned a song about Zacchaeus which emphasized his height challenge.
Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he.He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.
But now I notice his strategic capacity. He finds a way to get above the crowd, in a tree with low branches like a live oak. It’s a guy climbing to the top of the grandstand on the parade route. It’s Gene Kelley on the base of the lamppost in “Singing in the Rain”.
But then the story turns, like when the passing officer sees Gene Kelly. Zacchaeus loses the initiative. And Jesus takes it.
Jesus stops by the tree and looks at Zacchaeus.
When we are watching situations, we never want to be seen, we want to observe. I’m like that. I sit in the back row, I stand back stage. I check out churches on the internet. But Jesus cuts through all that and looks right at him.
And then Jesus speaks to him, by name.
There’s no way to know how he knew. But he’s Jesus. And sometimes when we least expect, he talks to us as if he has known us all along.
And then Jesus says this. “It’s necessary for me to remain at your house.”
Jesus was planning to spend the night in Jericho. And although there were inns, like the one where the Good Samaritan put the beaten man, Jesus had a different plan. He was going to stay with Zacchaeus. It’s just that Zacchaeus hadn’t known it.
I know. We say that this doesn’t happen now.
But I’ve been sitting in hospital rooms talking with people. And they say, “I’ve been praying that somehow God will respond. And he doesn’t. At all.” And then I tell them how I was planning to work in another area of the hospital, but I came to their room just because.
When we’re looking for Jesus, Jesus knows. And notices.