If you want to get from here to there, you need to use your GPS. The course will be mapped out for you, and all you need do is pay attention to the signs. Adding a human touch, a voice will direct you, telling you where to go and when to turn.
We are on the fifth Sunday before Lent. Our journey to Pascha begins with Zacchaeus. The gospel story is found only in Luke, but it has a huge significance. So where is this character, Zacchaeus? He is up in a Sycamore tree. We are en route and encounter a tree. This is no ordinary tree, but one of the oldest species of trees on this earth. Bidisha Mukherjee, published on May 21, 2010 information concerning the tree in which Zacchaeus was perched on. Go here to read more. The huge tree that is capable of growing to 100 feet, is a symbol of strength, hope, protection, eternity, and divinity.
What we know about Zacchaeus was he was a "chief" tax collector, a rich man of short stature. Often, we have to read between the lines to get all the facts. First of all, his name means pure and innocent one, which did not seem to fit him at all. It certainly would seem that Zacchaeus, who was despised by many, had lost his way and like all of us, he was on a journey, looking for something of greatness. Perhaps, he had heard about the blind man of Jericho, who had been healed.
It is said of short men that they, especially if their eyes are small, are known to be shrewd, use a lot of tactics, are intelligent, and are known for mental acuteness. Zacchaeus was no different, as he wanted something and knew how to get it. Being short, he knew he would be able to see Jesus, and desiring it greatly, and in anticipation of His arrival, climbed up this monster of a tree. Possibly, knowing or sensing that Jesus would not approve of him, a known sinner, he would be protected and well hidden.
Little did he know he was on the road to repentence. When Jesus arrived at the place, He looked up -- you cannot hide from Him. Then we read in (Luke 19:5) "And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house."
Zacchaeus came down and received Him joyfully.
Lots of things come to my mind when I hear this story. None of us feel worthy to receive Jesus and like Zacchaeus, we sense the majesty of Jesus and know that often things get in our way from seeing Him. I can envision the crowd surrounding Him, just like a superstar in the presence of a multitude of fans, pushing, and taking pictures and rarely allowing a short person to get even a glimpse. Zacchaeus would not miss out for he knew He was going to pass that way.
These same people who surrounded Jesus at a happier time, would also surround Him on the way to Calvary--mocking, spitting, cursing and denying Him.
So that is where we begin, this story tells us that for a short man, he had faith, desire and one big heart. There is always the condition. Zaccheus was willing to change and he gave half of his goods to the poor, and restored what he had taken, fourfold.
(Luke 19:9-10) And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; (10) "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
We've been down that road before. The one and only road that leads to salvation. It begins with the word MUST, the same direction given to Zacchaeus by Jesus. Looking up the word "must", we find it means obligation, requirement, necessity. It is an expression of compulsion and we meet Zacchaeus on the road to the way, holding up a sign. "Desire," and "Change of Heart." You are on the road to repentance. Jesus has come to seek an save that which was lost. All mankind. You and I.
The road to repentance is no ordinary journey. Are you prepared to receive "the invitation" for Jesus to stay at your house? Is your response joy-filled, like Zacchaeus? Even so, let us begin....
Scripture referrences have been taken from The Orthodox Study Bible
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