Title: WHAT’S HOLDING YOU TOGETHER?
Text: Luke 19:1-10
I want to revisit a Bible story that takes us back to our childhood years. It’s a story we don’t visit very often as an adult, but we should, because it reveals the right heart needed to help hold things together.
“Zaccheus 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 as the Savior passed that way, He looked up in the tree. And He said, “Zaccheus, you come down, for I’m going to your house today. I’m going to your house to stay.””
I wonder what drove Zaccheus up the tree? Let’s do some imagining. Tax collecting is not a pleasant occupation; even more so in their day, because they exacted more than they needed to in order to fill their own pockets. That must have been the case for Zaccheus, for the Gospel of Luke says he was rich. I’m sure he didn’t get rich off of his Roman employers, but by the work of his own hands. Thus, being despised, people would look down on him…even more so for his short stature. I can imagine he was kicked around verbally…he wouldn’t have been kicked around physically because he had the protection of Rome behind him.
In Israel, where Roman occupation was despised, working for the oppressors made this Jewish man hated more than the soldiers, for he was a turncoat to the rest of his kinsmen. I imagine he was very lonely, battling feelings of rejection every day. No social life, no worship in the synagogue, no one to talk to…except for the phrase…”I need more money” to a people economically depressed already. Low self-esteem, lack of personal pride, isolation from his very blood kin…these were the emotions he battled day-in and day-out.
But he hears of a compassionate man named Jesus. He hears of stories in the streets where He embraced sinners, prostitutes, and even had a fellow tax collector as a disciple. He sees the attraction of loving followers and yearns for such fellowship. He longs for acceptance, friendship, relationships…LOVE! It’s too much for him to bear. He can’t hold it together any more.
When Jesus visits Jericho, news of His presence spreads like a wind-blown grassfire through the streets. People are flocking in the direction of the sighting. Zaccheus hears the words, “Jesus is here!” as people run past him. He joins the throng of those who want to see Jesus. When the crowd stops, there’s a hush as they listen intently to the words of this One who speaks with the voice of God and a compassionate healer. Jesus’ words are muffled, for Zaccheus is surrounded by bodies with garments that absorb the sound. Not only does he want to hear the precious words…he wants to SEE this man some claim to be the Messiah. His hope, his desperation, his need, is that this Man might speak the words that would help him hold it together.
Looking up through the hole of light above him, he sees branches of the familiar Sycamore tree. A ray of inspiration springs him into action. He climbs the tree and leans over a branch to see this God-like man.
As Jesus slowly makes His way through the pressing crowd, He can’t help but notice Zaccheus. Though there are people right in front of Him crying for healing, Jesus’ heart is drawn to this man of little stature in the tree…this grown man who’s dress gives him away as being wealthy…who’s desperation makes him do something unusual. Their eyes meet. Jesus cuts through the crowd and makes His way for the shade of the Sycamore. As Jesus looks up, Zaccheus’ heart begins to race…he knows this Holy One came over just to talk to him. But what He says blows him away…”He knows my name!!!” “Zaccheus hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today!” This is beyond all his expectations! “He came to town to see ME…a despised tax collector…and He wants to stay in MY house!!! I haven’t had someone come to my house for YEARS!!!”
Like a squirrel being chased up a tree…Zaccheus is equally fast in scurrying down the tree. Zaccheus throws his arms around Jesus and lays his head against His chest, just like a child that has been reunited with his Father who has been gone for a long time. With a renewed bounce in his steps and a smile bigger than has ever graced his face before, Zaccheus escorts Jesus down the dusty streets towards his isolated, but luxurious home. Someone in the crowd grumbles at the sight, “This Jesus guy isn’t anything…He’s gone to be the guest of a SINNER!” Jesus heard the words…stops in His tracks…turns around and says, “Today salvation comes to this house, because, he too, is a son of Abraham!” Jesus said, affirming Zaccheus.
What issues are you struggling with? What torment has stunted your spiritual growth? Is there an action that has separated you from others?...a sin that has kept you from fellowshipping with other Christians…feeling life has left you stranded in a tree…so desperate that you can’t hold it together any more?
Little Zaccheus, though small in stature, had the faith that Jesus would help him hold it together. He went to the RIGHT SOURCE! And YOU CAN TOO, my friend, if you do whatever it takes to lift your eyes upon the Savior, the SOURCE that will help YOU HOLD IT TOGETHER!