SHORTY THE PUBLICAN ARRESTED
Anglican Morning Devotion for 19 August 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-9; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Zacchaeus was SHORT, or, to satisfy the hopelessly clueless ‘woke’ among us, Zacchaeus was ‘vertically challenged.’ He was more than short in stature – he was short in understanding and faith, but this he was committed to rectify. There is not one among us that has not experienced that shortness of understanding and knowledge of Zacchaeus at our early calling to ‘come down.’ We do not meet Christ on our own terms – even from the branches of a sycamore tree. We must come down in our selfish pride and meet Him face-to-face at the Throne of Grace.
It is likely that Zacchaeus had some limited knowledge of the Lord. He doubtlessly had heard rumors from friends of the amazing and miraculous works of Christ. So, he resolved to see this Man with his own eyes. But Zacchaeus faced a familiar impediment. He was short and could not see over the heads of those flocking around the Lord. Those who are closest to Christ (even in our churches) often prevent others from coming to Him. But nothing will prevent the soul called by the Holy Spirit from his encounter with the Lord.
Zacchaeus ran, on his short little legs, ahead and climbed a sycamore tree. There he waited patiently for the procession to pass below. He felt quite protected from detection on his high branch, but there is no dark corner of the world where we can hide from the vision of our Lord. There was a warming pulse in the heart of Zacchaeus as he saw the Lord approaching. There was something that informed his heart of who this extraordinary figure might be. But Zacchaeus knew of his unworthiness to meet such a One as Christ. That is the first realization that the Spirit uses to make us aware of Christ – His greatness, and our own unworthiness. Until we realize that we are of no worth apart from Christ, we can never be accounted worthy in the eyes of God. Something beyond the understanding of Zacchaeus had prompted him to seek Christ. And he ran to do so.
Can we imagine the surprise and astonishment of the little man when the Lord Jesus suddenly stopped below the limb on which Zacchaeus sat and looked up squarely at him? Well, there is no place to hide on the branch of a sycamore tree, so Zacchaeus doubtlessly suffered a little fright. Would the Lord chastise him for his presumptuous behavior? Zacchaeus was even more shocked when he heard the Lord call his name! How did He know? The Lord not only knew the given name of Zacchaeus, but He also knew the new name of Zacchaeus written down in the Book of Life. Zacchaeus, up to this point, had been as spiritually dead as the mortally dead Lazarus in the tomb at Bethany, and , like Lazarus, his dead ears heard the command of Christ. “Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” When the Lord speaks to the dead in trespasses and sin, they will respond without exception! Zacchaeus obeyed without delay. “And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.” When our Lord comes into our hearts, it is not a casual visit – He comes to abide forever!
Zacchaeus remained short of stature after that event, but not short in love or faith. He repented of his sins and was filled with joy on hearing “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”
Two truths should be recognized in this last sentence of our Lord: 1) Not only had salvation come to Zacchaeus, but the covenant of grace came to his entire household. If we are faithful to our Lord in raising our children, they will be drawn to Christ in due time; and 2) All who believe the promise made to Abraham, regardless of the racial blood in their veins, are sons and daughters of Abraham. Of course, Zacchaeus had both!