7th December 2010

“Zacchaeus – The Hider!”

“I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”
John 10:16 (NLT)

Zacchaeus was a tax collector. In Israel certain jobs carried a heavy social stigma and were called ‘despised trades’. The religious leaders of the day would make lists of these trades, and one of the worst was…Tax Collector! We don’t know much about the individual in the verse above except that he was a small man (Luke 19:3), or vertically challenged, as we would say today.

On a certain day Jesus and his disciples arrived in Jericho but did not intend to stay—they were passing through. (Luke 19:1). Obviously there was a big crowd of people waiting to see Jesus and of course Zacchaeus was curious. He had probably heard that this great Rabbi had a tax collector in his group of disciples, and Jesus would often eat and socialise with people like him. Because he was short and couldn’t see over the crowd and because he was hated by the people of Jericho, no one was going to suggest that he come to the front to get a better view. But he was determined to see this man and didn’t let this angry crowd stop him…he climbed a tree!

He wanted to see this teacher but he also wanted to hold him at arms length; to see and not be seen; and while hidden he could control the situation. But to his great amazement Jesus got up close and personal with him; even calling him by name and inviting himself to his house for a meal (verses 5-6). Actually, the Greek word that is used means to spend the night—to lodge with him! Of course that’s what happened and for this man, the one who seeks the lost had arrived. Jesus said to him; “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost” (verses 9-10 NRSV).

So we see in this incident that Jesus actually changed his mind and spent the night in Jericho, and in so doing ‘found’ this individual who was hiding from him. There are many hiders in society today and they hide for many reasons; maybe they don’t feel good enough, perhaps they feel that God is not interested in them. But this just isn’t so; God’s favourite department is the “Lost and Found Department”! Jesus still seeks the hiders today and those who have become lost along the way. There are no limits to his love, no measure to his grace and no boundaries to his power.

The time for hiding is over; the time for coming home has arrived. No penalties, no punishment, but instead, a robe of righteousness and garments of salvation!

Prayer
Lord, thank you for your amazing love for all people; thanks that you are still diligently seeking the lost as the Good Shepherd. I pray that they will indeed hear your voice and be found by you.
Amen

Study by Cliff Neill 

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