Zacchaeus was short and he was also a sinner – no relation. Zacchaeus was a man who was unfamiliar with Love - mostly because as I just stated, he was a sinner, but also because he was a chief tax collector. It’s assumed that he used his position of power to steal from, and cheat the people in his hometown of Jericho.
One day, while sitting in a tree in order to catch a glimpse of the arriving famous fella from Nazareth, Zacchaeus encountered the good news. He met Jesus, who loves both sinners and apparently even tax collectors.
I imagine you know the story. It’s found in Luke. It’s also been wonderfully preserved in a children’s song that employs the words wee and little. As Jesus is walking through the crowded street past Zacchaeus’ tree, he looks up and by name he greets the short fella. “Zacchaeus, I must come to your house tonight!” He says. And then Jesus, Love in human form, the Son of God, goes to the wee little sinner’s place for dinner.
Now I want to point something out that is absolutely stunning. Not once does Jesus mention Zacchaeus’ sinful ways. Not once did He chastise him, correct him, or challenge him. There was not even insinuation or eye rolling. No suggestive mothering tone in Jesus voice, quite the opposite. Jesus actions are loud and clear. “I love you and I am going to treat you the way my Father see’s you. He value’s you, He see’s goodness in you, and I will celebrate you.” Jesus honors Zacchaeus. There was no shame, no condemnation. There was only Love.
Then the coolest thing happens; Zacchaeus is transformed. Where just moments earlier we had a sinner, now suddenly we have a saint. The old sinner, now saint, declares that he will give half of what he owns to the poor and return four times what he stole.
How did this happen? Jesus was the Father revealed. Zacchaeus saw his Father and then himself from his Fathers perspective. Zacchaeus was living in one reality when he was introduced to a greater revelation – Love. From his Fathers perspective, Zacchaeus was supernaturally generous, he was prone to love. Zacchaeus encountered Love, saw Himself from Loves perspective, and decided to agree with how Love saw him.
I would like to suggest that this is how our heavenly Father always interacts with us. He determines to see us through the heart of Love. Every encounter I have ever had with God has been this way. He is intent on me knowing He loves me. And it is His greatest desire that I believe Him. When I meet with Him, there is never condemnation, shame, or guilt. He never seems interested in bringing up my past weaknesses or failures. Instead, when I find myself in his presence, I am simply humbled by His good love.
Hear me, I am not saying I am unaware of where I’ve failed, it’s just that I am infinitely more aware of who He is and that He dwells in me. I am not belittling sin; I am praising His love. I am not ignoring evil, I am celebrating His goodness.
I am convinced that God so desires us to know and believe His love simply because in doing so we are set free to become saints.
The bible makes it clear, Zacchaeus was a thief and a liar, he had a sinful nature, he was prone to wander. But one encounter with Love changed everything. In the natural, Zacchaeus was a sinner, but when he saw and encountered Love, he was transformed into a saint. It’s not in the nature of a sinner to give like he gave. But it is in the nature of a saint. Saints are generous. And saints have the capacity to give supernaturally.
As a believer I am learning that what I think about me should always be determined by what my heavenly Father thinks about me. I so want to see myself from my His perspective. You see, through Gods eyes, Zacchaeus wasn’t a self-centered, small-minded, thieving, liar; he was a generous large-hearted believer who was capable of giving more than half of what he owned away. When we see ourselves through Gods eyes, we become saints, capable of all the things that sinners aren’t.
The moment Zacchaeus realized God saw him as generous he became generous. It’s that simple. I would like to suggest that this is how we become world changers. We simply encounter Gods nature and agree with it. We simply experience a revelation of our Fathers love and live in agreement with it. In His love I am a generous man! I am kind, and patient, and merciful, I’m full of grace. In His love, I am prone to love... and so are you!