Zacchaeus – Short Dude. Weird Name. Noticed By God.

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Okay, so I master teach in middle school youth occasionally, and this past time I taught on Zacchaeus. At first I was really bummed about it because I was all like, “Uhhhhhh, every kid who has ever gone to church knows this story… it’s like the children’s ministry’s favorite one… what the heck am I going to say that’s ‘new’ that they haven’t already heard!?!?!”

But then as I started to study it, I felt washed over with a “new” perspective that I had never heard of/thought of before. Several of my friends wanted to hear the message and since I script out all of my lessons, I just changed it up a bit to make it blog-friendly and thought I’d share it here with you!

 {ZacchIKEAus}

Did you know that IKEA will babysit your kids… for free… for an hour… while you go upstairs and have a cup of coffee in their café?

Yeah. Well, they will.

And yeah, it’s awesome.

And yeah, that is the main reason that I potty trained my kids… so that I could take them to IKEA childcare and maintain my sanity every once in a while. Annnnnnnnd, well, now we are pretty much “regulars” there!

When we first started going out there my oldest son was three and he couldn’t remember the name of the store but they were learning the whole Zacchaeus climbed a tree song in church and so… yeah.

ZacchIKEAus.

Well, let’s talk about him.

Short dude with a weird name.

Yeahhhhhhhh, that combo was probably NOT good for his social life. I mean… I can totally identify with that. I’m a short girl with a weird name. So, yeah, I get it… I’m that chick that has to stand up on the seat at football games when everyone else stands up. I’m the girl who every time someone learns that my name is “January” they have to say “JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER…” as if they were the first person ever to say that to me.

I actually asked this question on facebook and twitter…

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And here were some of the responses…

Napoleon
Flava Flav
Zach Galifianakis
Danny DeVito
E.T.
Rumpelstiltskin
Prince
Benedict Cumberbatch (okay, yeah, he’s not exactly short but his name is crazy awesome-weird, so I had to include him!)

Anyway… those were cracking me up! I mean, E.T.?!?! Brilliant!

But to the REAL Zacchaeus… here’s his story:

 1Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.5When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”6Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.8Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”9Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:1-10

Geeeeeez.

Short. Rich. Weird name. Tough break for this guy.

Plus, what’s even worse is that it says in verse two that he was the chief tax collector and that he had gotten really rich… and man, there is not a whole lot that we like less than a RICH politician guy with a WEIRD name who is also SHORT. So, anyway, Zacchaeus was NOT well liked. Jewish people tended to really not like the people that were tax collectors.

Here’s a pretty good explanation as to why…

As a chief tax collector for the vicinity of Jericho, Zacchaeus was an employee of the Roman Empire. Under the Roman system, men bid on those positions, pledging to raise a certain amount of money. Anything they raised over that amount was their personal profit. Luke says Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, so he must have extorted a great deal from the people and encouraged his subordinates to do so as well. About.com

So, here’s this short dude, weird name, AND he’s basically conning people out of all of their money.

Zacchaeus is a bully.

And we reallllllllllllllllllllllly don’t like bullies.

But Jesus took the time to stop, call him by name, and talk to him… so he must be worth checking out. The thing that I think sticks out the most to us about Zacchaeus here is that he climbed a tree to see Jesus.

Did you pick up on that? He climbed. a. tree.

Like, a grown man. A politician type guy. Climbed a tree. To see some preacher dude.

Okay, that would be a little weird now… I mean, okay, I’m just going to go with THE politician everyone knows: Obama. I mean, he kinda has a weird name like Zacchaeus, so let your imagination stretch. Can you imagine if some super preacher, like Billy Graham, was walking through town and Obama heard about it and he was all like, “Oh dang. I can’t see him… I’ll just climb this tree.”

Uhhhhhhhh, weird.

And it was just as weird then. But ya know… Zacchaeus was willing to do something CUH.RAY.ZAY. to meet Jesus. He was willing to climb a tree to see him. To see if it was true. To see if all this awesome stuff that he was hearing about Jesus was true.

And I think that we have to remember this… because we see people do all sorts of crazy, stupid stuff sometimes, and we are all like “Ugh… they are just trying to get attention.”

And ya know what? Yeah… yeah they are.

They are trying to get the attention of Jesus… well, the only Jesus they know: You.

You are the walking, talking, representative of Jesus.

And they are being crazy because they want your attention. They want HIS attention, through YOU. They want HIS love, through YOU. They want HIS forgiveness, through YOU. But the only way they know how to get to Him… is to be crazy.

You see, most of us, it doesn’t matter if we are 4’6” or 6’4”… we feel that we fall short. Just like Zacchaeus. We feel that there is this… something… about us that makes SHORT. Too short to really see Jesus. Too SHORT for Jesus to see us.

And so people do crazy stuff to make themselves NOTICED.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree. Your friends act all drama-mama. Or they go do crazy stunts to get everyone’s attention. Or they monopolize the conversation. Or… whatever.

Thing is… Jesus NOTICED Zacchaeus. He called him by name. While he was up in a flipping tree!!! And then not only did he NOTICE Zacchaeus, but Jesus also became his friend… in front of everyone. Like, THE guy in town that no famous person would EVER want to befriend, and not only does Jesus befriend Zacchaeus but he also goes over to his house.

Now, I remember when I was in school, a lot of kids would use this as an example for “Hey, mom and dad, you say that I’m supposed to be like Jesus and well, according to the BIBLE, He went to this guy’s house for dinner… a notorious sinner! So, obviously, if Jesus were here today… then he would go to this drunken drug fest at Susie Q’s house this weekend just like he went to Zacchaeus’s house.”

Okay, yeah no. This chunk of scripture is NOT saying “Go to parties… go get drunk or high with those kids.” That’s what not it’s saying here. You gotta look at what this represents.

What Jesus did was to STEP OUT of what everyone THOUGHT he should do and he showed Zacchaeus love. Compassion. He made Zacchaeus worthy just by being with him.

And Jesus didn’t even require Zacchaeus to change or confess or become perfect BEFORE He befriended him… no. I mean, look… Jesus is all like “Zacchaeus… yo. I’m coming to your house.” There was no “Zacchaeus, Hi, my name is Jesus. Look, you’ve been a really bad dude. Tell me all the bad stuff you’ve done, tell me you feel guilty for everything, show that you can be different for a few months, and then IF you do all of that… THEN I’ll come over to your house.”

No. And I want all of you to hear this: Jesus doesn’t NEED you to be perfect or worthy BEFORE He will come over to your house… He doesn’t show up in your life because you are extra awesome… you BECOME extra awesome when He shows up in your life.

God doesn’t choose us for His work because we are worthy;
when He chooses us, we become worthy.

Paraphrase of a quote by Augustine

Okay, so the three things I want you to remember:

  1. Attention seekers: they just want to see JESUS in you.
  2.  Jesus doesn’t require change to be loved by Him: He requires your heart. Change will come.
  3. If we are going to BE Jesus then that means that we can’t require others/attention grabbers to be perfect either.

 {I didn’t script the prayer, but I thought I’d go ahead and end this post with a prayer…}

God, wow. Thank you… thank you for loving me no matter what. Thank you for loving me without me having to do a blooming thing. Thank you for just wanting my heart… despite the rotten condition it is in half the time. Thank you. I pray that you would help me to see some of the people around me that are obviously just trying to get attention… and I pray that you would transfer the feelings in my heart from those of annoyance to those of compassion and love and kindness. I pray that I would see them as you saw Zacchaeus: just a person, doing something crazy, trying to get your attention… trying to see you. I know that sometimes I do that… I stray from  you just hoping that you will come and fetch me. God, if you see me sitting far away from you, call me out by name. Call my name Jesus. TELL ME that you are coming to my house. Seek me out God. Seek us all out. Eat with us when no one else will. Infuse us with your worth… it is the only worth that matters. Oh thank you again God. For the ease with which you accept us all. I love you, Jesus. Amen.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    RIght on! Thank you for posting this lesson. It’s a good one. Totally spurred another thought/lesson to pull from this. I now will have to crack open Luke and have a look-see. :)

    • says

      Score! Yeah… I have really gotten into looking into a lot of the “kid-stories” again. I taught on the paralytic man a few weeks ago and wow that one rocked my world too!

    • says

      Hmmmmm, well I certainly would defer to your judgment on this one since I’m a 35 year old mom of 2 young boys. Between us, I actually went back in and added a few things for clarification on the blog and that was one of them… pretty sure I didn’t use that phrase in the actual lesson, although I will admit that I have used that phrase before around teens… It is a tough line as a speaker to teens to speak their “lingo” so that they will listen without fully diving into their language. I will certainly be thinking about this phrase and will ask around to what other moms in your similar boat think about it. Thanks for bringing it up!

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