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 Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree
And said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I’m going to your house today!
For I’m going to your house today!’
If you attended church as a small child, chances are the words (as well as the motions) of this song are very familiar to you. So much so, the tune is probably playing over and over in your head even now as you read this paragraph. Sorry about that.
If I’m not careful, I find myself speed-reading my way through well-known passages like the story of Zacchaeus. This morning as I sat on my couch, with the aroma of fresh ground coffee brewing in the air, I felt that exact temptation as I read Luke 19.
Thankfully, I took a deep breath, however, and slowly read the story of Zacchaeus taking in each verse. As I read, verses 6 and 7 stood out to me.
“So he (Zacchaeus) hurried and came down and received him (Jesus) joyfully. 7 And when they (the crowd) saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
Here we have a man who so desperately wanted to see Jesus that he found a way around the crowd by climbing a tree to catch a glimpse of Him. When Jesus called him, Zacchaeus quickly responded. Joyfully. And yet, those with a front-row view of the unfolding story — distracted by their own expectations of who Jesus should spend time with or what should have actually happened — grumbled.
Later in that same chapter in the story of the triumphal entry, the Pharisees once again displayed their short-sighted understanding of His ministry when they requested that Jesus rebuke his disciples for crying out praises Him upon arrival.
Instead of a rebuke, Jesus answered in verse 40,
“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
My initial reaction? How sad for them to completely miss the point. But I must confess, I can do the same thing. I can allow distractions and unmet expectations to overshadow the extraordinary of the day. I can allow doubts of my ability to silence boldness. I can allow thoughts of other insignificant things distract me from enjoying the presence of Jesus.
We have to remember to take a deep breath and slowly read the story unfolding before us so that we don’t miss the opportunities that God divinely invites (and commands) us to take an active part in.
Like Zacchaeus, there are people around us who are desperately longing to catch a glimpse of Jesus. They are searching for hope, for purpose, for identity and for answers to questions they may be too afraid to initiate.
This past semester, the BCM and First College partnered together for tables that would help us initiate intentional Gospel conversations on campus. On the quad, students were invited to respond to the question on a large chalkboard, “What question would you ask God?” Some students quickly replied and hurried to their next class. Others would linger momentarily to discuss possible answers to their questions with our volunteers. Praise the Lord our volunteers were willing to engage them in conversation because one student literally asked how to go to Heaven. This opened the door for the Gospel to be shared and joyfully received that beautiful day!
As you dive into a new semester, may you approach campus with fresh eyes. As your days get busy, may you remember to take a deep breath and enjoy the presence of Jesus. And as you go, may you take advantage of the opportunities around you to introduce people to Him.
What question would you ask God?
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