LUKE 19:1-10 tells the story of a tax collector from the town of Jericho named Zacchaeus (or Zack-EE-us...at least that’s how us Preachers promenounce it).
The story of Zacchaeus has always been one of my personal favorites ever since I was a little kid.
For one, Zacchaeus is a cool name. With the proper attention to costuming, he could have easily been transformed into some kind of a super hero. I also had a dog named Zacchaeus once. I also had a dog named Boo-Puppy. But Boo-Puppy isn’t in the Bible. Anyhow...
The story of Zacchaeus is also one of the few Bible stories that comes with it’s own song. This is super handy if you happen to be a Preacher who forgot your Bible...which I happen to be most of the time. The lyrics go like this:
"Zacchaeus was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see
And when the Lord came passing by
He looked up in the tree
And He said, 'Zacchaeus,
You come down from there!
For I'm going to your house today!
For I'm going to your house today!'"
OK, not a great rhyming scheme and the meter can be a little tricky. Rogers and Hart it ain’t. Still, there aren’t any “Jesus and the Fig Tree” songs that I know of, so boo hoo.
As a kid, this story had everything I loved: Zacchaeus was short; I was too. Zacchaeus loved climbing trees; I was always in a tree. Not much has changed.
As an adult, this story continues to resonate for me - but for different reasons. In spite of some fairly significant strikes against him, Zacchaeus was determined to see the Lord. So he did what others might have considered an undignified, certainly unconventional act, and climbed a tree.
No doubt there would have been hecklers, mockers. If you think the sight of the town’s short, despised, evil, little tax collector trying to climb a tree, didn’t produce some major hits, you don’t know how hated guys in Zack’s profession were in those days (they were considered traitors - so what’s new?). Just seeing him struggle to get up in the tree would have been the perfect time for some well-placed, hurtful “comments” from his “fans”, to say the least.
But Zacchaeus prevailed. He kept climbing. And for his trouble, he got to have the Lord for a dinner guest. Tradition says he got even more than that.
Um...is any of this getting through to anybody yet?
As together we stand and sing.