There are five key points we need to take from the story of Zacchaeus. We ought to get a summary of the whole story to understand how we derived these main lessons.
Now, let’s remind ourselves what the Bible says about Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus, the tax collector, was a rich man. The story of Zacchaeus describes him as a little man whose limitations did not allow him to see Jesus. But what's hidden in it?
I’ll elaborate on that later on.
His desire to see Jesus compelled him to run ahead of the crowd and climb a sycamore tree. When Jesus got there, He sensed there was someone on the tree who was craving to see Him. Jesus called him out by his name and asked Zacchaeus to come down.
Zacchaeus hurriedly came down and welcomed Jesus into his home. The people were not amused at Jesus entering the home of a sinner. They grumbled.
Zacchaeus was quick to promise he would give the poor half of his belongings. He went ahead to mention he would pay anyone he had cheated four times as much as he looted.
Jesus responded with a lot of joy. Through Zacchaeus’ gesture, salvation came to his home, as he was also a descendant of Abraham. Jesus concluded by stating that he came to save the lost.
Now, what does the story of Zacchaeus teach us?
Five Key Lessons in the Story of Zacchaeus
You can find the story of Zacchaeus, in Luke 19: 1-10. Let’s first deal with the descriptions attached to the man of short stature.
Tax Collector – Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector. Every part of the Bible that talks about tax collectors refers to them as sinners. Zacchaeus wore the same hat.
Sycamore tree – In the Bible, the sycamore tree does not mean the natural tree, but an invisible place, person, or thing that uplifts us. Here's where you can learn more about the sycamore tree.
Okay, let’s get into the details.
Zacchaeus got to a point in his life where an irresistible force drove him to Jesus. So, what does the story of Zacchaeus teach us?
- No limitation can stop God.
- We have to fight to get rid of obstacles.
- When we need something, we’ve got to pursue it irrespective of people’s negative talk.
- Confidence is King.
- Time is of the essence.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Let’s get into the depth of the story of Zacchaeus.
Meaning of the Short Stature of Zacchaeus
Most of the time, we do not get the message when we focus on the literal meaning of the story. The Bible is a volume of parables. It’s our responsibility to unearth what’s underneath the surface.
The story of Zacchaeus refers to a short man which is not the case. Zacchaeus was unable to reach Jesus. His life as a tax collector was a major obstacle. Sin prevented him from pursuing Jesus. It was until he heard that Jesus was around that he made the effort to find him.
Why do you think he struggled to see Jesus?
Just before Zacchaeus decided to climb the tree, Jesus had healed a blind beggar in Jericho. Zacchaeus got attracted to the miracles!
He had to leave his short stature and climb a sycamore tree to see Jesus! Zacchaeus had to make an effort to understand who Jesus was!
What do we make of this?
When we are drowned in activities that displease the Lord, we wouldn’t see him. Instead, we magnify the darkness in our lives. Short stature means living without the Lord!
However, the moment we make the first step toward Jesus, He knows it. That’s why He was able to sense Zacchaeus had climbed the sycamore tree. Jesus acknowledges little effort.
We have to Fight to get rid of Obstacles
The first obstacle in the story of Zacchaeus was his sin. After he made the decision to see Jesus, he met the second challenge; the crowd.
Zacchaeus was determined. The crowd was not going to prevent him from reaching Jesus. He had to use another means to solve his problem. Zacchaeus badly wanted to see Jesus.
Let’s for a moment take his climbing of the tree literally.
Can you imagine a man of such caliber in society climbing a tree?
But Zacchaeus did not care. He ignored the onlookers. His focus was on Jesus.
There was no more shame. He had to get what he wanted.
In life, we will come across stumbling blocks.
Let’s look at it from an ordinary life perspective.
We meet people who discourage us from pursuing our dreams in our daily interactions.
When we want to pursue a course, they tell us it’s hard.
If we decide to start a business, they instill fear in us. They use words like; “what if people don’t buy your products?” Or, “the business does not look promising, won’t you lose the capital?”
Now, this is the crowd we’ve got to run away from. They’re preventing God from placing the next gift in our hands.
These are people we can totally avoid in some cases. What if they are close family members? We’ve got to emulate Zacchaeus. He did not seek anyone's opinion before he climbed the sycamore tree. They just saw him up there!
Surprisingly, some of these people will applaud us once we have succeeded.
Jealousy Spotted in the Story of Zacchaeus
Where there is a crowd, there is noise. Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus with joy. The people who saw Jesus enter the home of Zacchaeus were unhappy. They knew him as a sinner and did not expect Jesus to enter his home.
Throughout the story of Zacchaeus, Jesus did not choose to enter the home of anyone in the crowd.
I guess we now understand why!
It’s the grumbling.
These people claimed to be more righteous than Zacchaeus. But God recognized their jealousy.
If we understand the story of Job, we can be able to tell how self-righteousness is destructive.
I guess we now realize the purity of our hearts speaks for us. The Bible tells us Jesus said, “the first shall be last and the last will come first.”
The story of Zacchaeus supports Jesus’ words.
Confidence is King
Zacchaeus was determined to defend himself. Immediately the crowd grumbled, he stood and made a promise to the Lord.
Part of it was acknowledging that in the process of his work, he defrauded people. Zacchaeus did not give the crowd time to accuse him. He shot before he got shot!
What do we get from this?
When the devil attacks, we need not retaliate. Instead, we should only talk to God.
Remember, the first instance of the crowd blocking Zacchaeus was not a threat to the devil. He did not imagine Zacchaeus would use an alternative means to reach God! The devil was in a comfort zone! He knew he had drowned Zacchaeus in the dreaded tax collection and he wouldn’t get out of it!
When Zacchaeus pulled through, the evil one had to strategize. His strategy failed again when Zacchaeus confidently defended himself.
Time is of the Essence
The story of Zacchaeus teaches us to value time. Any time wasted can result in a loss.
When God asked Zaccheus to come down, he hastily did it. He did not give it a second thought. If Zacchaeus disobeyed, the Lord would probably have taken up another assignment.
Zacchaeus identified the devil’s plan through the grumbling of the crowd. He responded immediately. Zacchaeus didn’t waste time. He was also careful not to respond to the crowd, but to God.
Both the crowd and Zacchaeus were addressing God. One man who was ready to repent carried the day, unlike a multitude that had a negative attitude towards Zacchaeus.
It’s never about numbers.
So, how are we going to apply what we have learned from the story of Zacchaeus?
The Hidden Treasure in the Sycamore Tree
Zacchaeus sprung up from nobody to somebody. He left the righteous-minded crowd behind as he made his way to dine with the Lord.
He was ready to reform.
We need to ask ourselves some questions.
Where are we in our relationship with God?
Are we with Zacchaeus?
Could we be among the grumblers?
If we find the story of Zacchaeus helpful, what do we need to correct to follow in his footsteps?
Now, take a few minutes off your busy schedule to share this content. Imagine someone somewhere has never understood why the story of Zacchaeus sits in the Bible. By sharing, you’ll have enlightened someone.