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Beautiful Messes: Zacchaeus

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name! ‘Zacchaeus! he said. ‘Quick! Come down! For I am going to be a guest in your home today!’ Zacchaeus hurriedly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the crowds were displeased. ‘He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,’ they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘Sir, from now on I will give half my wealth to the poor, and if I find I have overcharged anyone on his taxes, I will penalize myself by giving him back four times as much!’ Jesus told him, ‘This shows that salvation has come to this home today. This man was one of the lost sons of Abraham, and I, the Messiah, have come to search for and to save such souls as his.’”1

Zacchaeus was a man that traded relationships for wealth. He was despised by his neighbors because he gained his wealth by stealing from others. Because of these poor decisions, Zacchaeus was lonely, which is perhaps why he was so eager and curious to get a glimpse of Jesus firsthand. In addition to being a thief, Zacchaeus was also a short man. If you went to Sunday school as a child, you probably remember singing about Zacchaeus being a “wee little man”. Being short myself, I can imagine that Zacchaeus received the same kind of criticism that I received growing up, which many times has the tendency to make you feel left out. When he heard that Jesus was coming to town, he had no choice but to climb up a tree to be able to see Jesus! Even his great wealth couldn’t fill the great void in his heart that, as he would soon find out, only Jesus could fill.

I love the story of Zacchaeus because his life may have been messy, but to Jesus, he was beautiful and important. Jesus enthusiastically called him by name, shared life with him in his home, and changed the course of his life by giving him salvation. Zacchaeus realized what he had done, planned to fix his mistakes, and most importantly opened his heart to the Savior. Regardless of what others were saying, Jesus went where he was needed the most and showed love to a lonely thief.

Have you ever felt left out? Have you ever made mistakes that have damaged relationships with others? The Bible says all of us have sinned, which is why we need Jesus. He is the only one who can change our heart, restore our brokenness, and forgive our sins. Jesus wants you, my friend. We may find ourselves trapped in a big mess, but even then, Jesus is waiting with arms wide open, ready to give us a hope and a future. We just need to invite him in.

Suggested prayer: Dear God, I have made mistakes. Perhaps I have been selfish and put my own needs before those of the people around me. Please forgive me. I ask that you change my heart and restore me. Fill me with your love and the joy of your salvation and allow it to overflow to the people around me. Help me ask forgiveness where needed and be more like you in all I do. Thank you for making beautiful things out of messes. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  1. Luke 19:5-10 (TLB).

All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.