Suffocated, trapped like a wild animal in the crowd hard-pressed all around, panic seized the desperate man as he struggled to forge a way through to the melee’s epicenter. An unexplainable compulsion to see the ‘Nazarene’ had captured his soul, compelling him to unusual, curious measures.
The entire town had abandoned their morning routines to catch a glimpse of Him, or better still, to touch Him, if possible. News of His miraculous powers had gripped the entire region, the stories of wonder on everyone’s lips.
He’s here, here in Jericho. I want to see Him, the frantic man screamed inwardly. Wild with irrational desperation, he pleaded, pushed and shoved to make a way through. Futile! Impossible! Fervent prayer to Yahweh escaped his quivering lips, “O God, I have to see Him!”
The Sycamore tree! An image of the massive tree beside the road near the centre of the town’s square suddenly appeared in his mind. I could clearly see Him from that tree! he reasoned.
Angels smiled above, having set the scene to answer the man’s prayer.
Breaking away from the crowd, Zacchaeus ran ahead and down into the deserted town square. Reaching the tree, he effortlessly scaled the ancient tree’s broad trunk, positioning himself in the expansive branches, finding the best vantage point. I can see the entire road…everything clearly from here! Satisfied, his heart swelled with intense anticipation.
The noise of the approaching crowd was deafening–laughing, pleading, praises-all mingled together in one corporate plea to the carpenter’s son from Nazareth. All Zacheaus could hear was his pounding heart thumping wildly in his chest. Strangely warmed, he tried to fathom his impulsive behaviour as he watched the crowd draw closer. Leaving my tax booth unattended is one thing…climbing a tree to see a man is another…!? He was unable to explain the sudden longing in his heart to seek after God, whom he institutively understood was encapsulated in the Nazarene. Some are calling Him the Son of God, the Messiah! Could He be?
Zacchaeus frantically scanned the approaching crowd. THERE! I can see Him! Tears brimmed over his eyes and streamed down his full, ruddy cheeks before rolling down his manicured beard. The sight of Yeshua took away his breath, his heart pounding harder as He drew nearer. Zacchaeus was irresistibly drawn to Him by a love and power he had never known existed. I want Him to touch me. I want to be clean! The intensity of his cry racking his soul.
Suddenly the crowd arrived, gathering under the tree. Held captive by the Nazarene’s demeanor, Zaccheaus absorbed His every detail–the glow of God’s glory on His face, eyes that blazed with love’s passion, the authority emanating from His very being…
He is the source of all life! “O God, I have to meet this man.” His agonized prayer rose from the depths of his heart, the sheer force of his yearning shaking him to the core. Zaccheaus followed Yeshua with his eyes. Suddenly, He was there, under the tree, the enormity of His personal presence overwhelming Zaccheaus.
Without warning, Yeshua turned and lifted his eyes to meet his. Zacchaeus froze, stupefied. He’s looking at me, smiling. He’s talking to me… “Zacchaeus, I must come to your house today…” Time and eternity stood still in that surreal moment. He…He called me by name. How does he know my name? He wants me…He’s calling me…He’s offering me His hand, helping me out of the tree…
Bewildered, taken by surprise with the abrupt turn of events, Zacchaeus found himself walking beside the Nazarene. Deaf to the rumblings and insults of the disapproving crowd, all he could hear echoing through his heart was the unexpected mentioning of his name, the validating of his existence, by God.
Adapted from Luke 19:1-9.
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