They were both seeking that day. One, desperately. While the other, however, was just “passing through.”
The desperate one could barely see above the crowd for he was “small in stature.” But the Other saw everyone, and everything, clearly — even knowing the thoughts and intents of the heart. The small guy was a chief tax collector, a sinner, AND was rich — a triple whammy when it came to the pursuit of righteousness. The One who seemingly was about to pass by was the King of kings, the Savior of sinners, the God with whom nothing was impossible, even ushering a rich man into the kingdom of heaven (Lk. 18:24-27). Very different men.
But what Zacchaeus and Jesus had in common is that they were both seeking.
And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, . . . And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
(Luke 19:2-3a, 9-10 ESV)
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. The reputation which had preceded the Teacher from Galilee had rooted itself in the heart of this Roman-serving, countrymen-oppressing, little rich man. Whatever he had heard about Jesus, it compelled him to know more. Even if it meant scurrying amidst the crowd, bumping into butts so that he might wind his way towards the tree which would help him rise above the crowd. He was seeking the Seeker.
But when Jesus looked up and saw this “big man” tax collector humbling himself as he precariously balanced above the crowd, putting himself literally out on a limb, Jesus said, “Come down, for I must stay at your house”, as if it had been His plan all along. As if passing through Jericho had always been with the intent of a rest stop at a sinner’s house. For Jesus, too, was seeking the seeker.
I’m sure there’s some theological term or explanation for how someone who is dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1) comes alive enough to seek the Author of life (Acts. 3:15). But, to me, it’s a mystery. The wonder of the Seeker seeking the seeker. Even stirring his, or her heart such that he, or she would find themselves seeking the Seeker.
What so compellingly prompts a proud, little man to so humble himself in order to rise above the crowd, and climb a tree in front of those who despise him? What makes the Son of God humble Himself, take on flesh, be hanged on a tree, and be lifted up before a mob set on deriding Him? Both were seekers. Both were seeking. Both were seeking the seeker.
Amazing! The actions of both men defy comprehension, really. But that the One who was in the beginning (Jn. 1:1), and made everything that was ever made (Jn. 1:3), and holds together everything that is being held together (Col. 1:17), would Himself come to seek and save the lost? Jaw-dropping.
Pretty familiar Sunday School story. Kind of easy to blow by it. But pause, be still, and noodle on it a bit, and it’s enough to send the awe-o-meter off the scale.
Because of His amazing grace. For His soul-seeking glory.