The day started off ordinarily enough, except that I didn’t want to go to work. I love my job. I think this was the first time I didn’t want to go to work. Sure, my clients can get a little testy when they think I’m overcharging them, but I can deal with it. After all, I work for the government. Isn’t it the government’s job to overcharge people?
That day, I was walking to work and the streets were packed! I had never seen so many people in my life. Then I remembered that the man called Jesus, the very man who claimed to be the Messiah was coming! Naturally, I had to investigate. I couldn’t even see the street, being 3.5 digits below the average national height. I found a tree and climbed up. Then I waited. Finally, I head people muttering and standing on their tiptoes.
“Is that Him?”
“Look! There He is!”
“It’s… it’s Jesus!”
I was eager to get a glimpse of Him. As He walked, He slowed and stopped right in front of the tree I was sitting in.
“Zacchaeus, come out of that tree. For today, I am going to your house.”
I couldn’t believe my ears! Jesus knew my name? I got out of that tree as fast as I possibly could. I accidentally kicked a man as in my haste and knocked him out cold. Why would Jesus want to speak to me? I was overjoyed! When I finally got out of that tree, the crowd was indignant.
“Why is he going to the house of a tax collector?”
“This man has swindled almost everyone in this crowd.”
I didn’t know what to do. I don’t know how long I stood there, but I finally stammered an answer. I’m not quite sure what caused the change in me, but for the first time ever, I felt a deep sense of remorse for what I had done to the citizens of this city. I knew I had to do something. Not just for the people I had cheated. Not just for Jesus, but for me and my family also.
“Lord, I am sorry. I will give half my possessions to the poor. If I’ve cheated anyone, I’ll give them back double, no four times what I own them.” Then I couldn’t help it. I fell down at His feet and cried.
“Salvation has come to the house.” Jesus said. And then, do you know what He did? He smiled at me!
I humbly asked Jesus if He would still be willing to come to my house. When we got there, I gathered my family, and we all sat at His feet. We could all feel an inexplicable sense of wonder and peace as He spoke. We all changed that day, my wife, our children and I. Oh, what a wonderful celebration we had that night!
The next day, I started to fulfill my promise. I started with those whom I had cheated the most. When they saw me, most of them tried to shut the door in my face. I can’t say I blame them. But then, I begged them to just listen to me. When I told them what I was doing, they were amazed. They were grateful. For those that wouldn’t listen the first day, I came back. By then, they had heard what I had been doing. I gave half of my possessions to the poor. They needed it so much more than I did. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. I guess I was blinded by my own success.
I still have my old job as a tax collector, but I never take more than I am required to. I continue to give to the poor also. Even though my family doesn’t enjoy as much material possessions as we once had, we are happy. We are no longer hated in the city. I’ve made friends.
Oh, remember the guy I kicked when I was climbing down the tree? I paid all of his medical bills, plus compensated him for lost wages and emotional trauma. You should have seen the look of shock on his face. I think I almost killed him again. But best of all, Jesus came to touch me. And to think, it all happened because I climbed up in a Sycamore tree. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Author’s note: This story is loosely based on Luke 19:1-10.
* 1 digit is equal to approximately 3/4 inches according to www.spiritrestoration.org