Be Like Zach
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Remember the days when people would say: “Be like Mike.” On the basketball court, winning and work ethic could be found in Michael Jordan. Kids would wear his shoes, shoot the ball like him, dress like him, and even walk like him. I still like to see the shoulder shrug a player emulates on the basketball court after a made shot.
There is a man in the Bible named Zacchaeus, or Zach that can be a help to us today. With many people searching for meaning and purpose, we can learn from his story the reality we are living in.
Zaccheus was loaded. He had a large house. He had the best the day in age he lived had to offer. He was one of the richest people in his hometown. His wealth was gotten through hard work, deceit, and a driven personality.
Throughout his whole life, he set out to prove his worth. Being a man short in stature, he probably felt that if he became a big man in material things, then people would see him as a big man.
No- one likes to be the kid picked on because of size, weight, height, ability, smarts, or lack of athleticism. Zaccheus was that boy who became an “overachiever” to try to make up for his being shorter than most of the other boys. For him, he thought, becoming rich was the thing that could help him most.
Zaccheus lived in a place called Jericho. Hundreds of years before, Jericho was a Canaanite stronghold. If you read Joshua Chapter 6 you will discover how the Lord knocked the seemingly impenetrable walls down for His people to go in to possess their Promised Land. During the time of Christ, the city of Jericho was built a short distance away from those ruins of Joshua’s day.
Zaccheus is a big man in Jericho. He is known to be ruthless, rich, and even as a traitor. “Publicans” in the Bible is not short for a political party – it is term for the Tax Collectors from the Roman Empire. Most of the Jewish people saw Zaccheus as a traitor for he worked for the Roman government who controlled Israel. In addition, the tax collectors were notorious for overcharging the tax rate. For example, if 80 denari was due, they would charge 100 and keep the rest for themselves. People did not like the tax collectors because of this. Zach was symbolic of the men who got rich off the backs of their own countrymen.
One day, a Person Who had a large following of people passed through Jericho. Zaccheus was one to “keep his ears to the ground.” As the “Chief” publican, he had many people working for him and he enjoyed hearing news of people’s successes so he would know when to increase their taxes. It was Jesus who was passing through the city, teaching and helping people.
Zaccheus had a big problem however. Like the Bible teaches, “worry” cannot add to our stature, or make us taller or healthier, riches cannot buy inches or good health either (Matthew 6:27). Zach could not see. He was too short and the large crowd was too tall.
Zach runs ahead in the direction he sees Jesus walking. He climbs up a sycamore tree and peers down to Jesus as He walks in his direction. Jesus looks up and tells Zaccheus to “Come down.” Jesus then says he wants to “abide” or spend some time at Zaccheus’s house.
His house was probably one of the larger, nicer houses in Jericho. The people however were upset that Jesus would sit down to eat dinner and spend some time in the house of a “sinner.”
The truth is – all humans are sinners – not just cheats and thiefs. Romans 3:23 informs: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 continues, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We need the gift of eternal life.
As Jesus talks with Zach, he explains the purpose of His mission. Jesus lets everyone know the purpose for his trip to Earth and His reason for coming into this world. “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Jesus came to earth to find people who were “lost” in their sin. Zaccheus was rich and powerful, but he was spiritually lost. There are others who are religious and educated, but lost. There are others still who are poor or not healthy, and are lost too.
The human condition is a “lost” condition without Jesus. The first and greatest missionary was Jesus. He came to earth on a mission of mercy, love and grace.
- Mercy so we do not get what we deserve – Hell.
- Grace so we can get what we do not deserve – Heaven.
- And Love because He values and cherishes us more than new could ever fully understand. Love is a choice. Romans 5:8 teaches, “But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Our value as humans does not come from financial status, our last names, the location we live, the job or title we hold, or the abilities we have acquired. Our value and worth comes from God. God loves us. He loves you! God created you. He made you and has given you life and opportunity. Don’t be like Zach in trying to find value in all the wrong places. Be like Zach when he invited Jesus into his heart and life.
Zaccheus was a changed man. Jesus said “This day is salvation come to this house.” When a person is “born again” he has a new life in Christ things are different than before. Love, purpose, and priorities all shift to more meaningful things. Zach paid back 4 times over the money he had stolen. He started to conduct his life and work in a responsible, loving way. He had eternal life and he now knew that his value was found in God and his value was from God, not his money, stature, house, location, or the job he held.
Three truths to take away:
- Know your value comes from God – not your circumstances.
- Embrace Jesus, the only Way to Heaven. Trust His work on the Cross and believe in His resurrection.
- Serve in the ministry. Missions work and Gospel work is the work of the Christian. Tell someone about Jesus. Participate in your church missions program. Pray for missionaries to go – then help them get there following the footsteps of Jesus.