October 31, 2013 #647

He (Jesus) entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. Luke 19:1-3 (NRSV)

“Zacchaeus was a wee, little man; a wee little man was he. He climb up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. And as the Savior came that way, He looked up in the tree, and he said, ’Zacchaeus, you come down from there,’ For I’m going to your house today. For Zacchaeus in a tree.I’m going to your house today.” Children love to sing this song. We all know that Zacchaeus was short in stature. But as often the case in Bible stories if we dig deeper we find another meaning in a story. That is the case in this story for the same Greek word translated short is also found in Luke 9:48 where we read “the least among all of you is the greatest.” In this passage Jesus has just proclaimed that “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me.” In a story that proceeds the Zacchaeus story (18:15-17) Jesus rebukes his disciple for preventing children from being brought to him. It is true that in our story Zacchaeus acts like a child when he climbs a tree. After all, how many adults do you know climb trees, but children love to do it. But in a deeper sense being least is not just about acting like a child or being small in stature, it’s about his standing in the community. As a tax collector he was considered a traitor to the Romans, an outcaste and labeled as a sinner. That might be one of the reasons the crowd did not let him get to the front. Good community members would not have wanted to have anything to do with him. It would have been easy for him to think that he was a nobody. But Jesus seeks Zacchaeus out and invites himself to his place. There he proclaims that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham (verse 10). I believe it is common for many people to feel that they are unimportant or even a nobody. Because of the type of life some have lived they might think that not only the church but also Jesus Christ wants nothing to do with them. They are the least of who the church wants as members. But the good news is that Jesus seeks out those who feel unimportant, a nobody. Jesus invites himself into their life and reminds them that they are children of God. So any time you begin to feel you are unimportant remember that to Jesus you are important for Jesus loves you and claims you as his child.