Type Casting: We All Have Much in Common

Published on Monday, 01 July 2019 02:00
Written by Stewardship Today Staff

The Gospels spill over with stories that we enjoy sharing with our children. The birth of Christ is told over and over. So are the stories of miracles—five thousand fed with just a little bread and a few fish, adults and children healed, one man lowered by his friends through the ceiling of someone else’s house. Perhaps few stories are enjoyed by more children than the story told in Luke, chapter 19, about the diminutive tax collector named Zacchaeus. Even if we rely on the Gospel narrative alone, we know a fair amount about this man. He was a chief tax collector, and tax collectors were universally despised for the fees they demanded from their own countrymen. Zacchaeus was not well liked. He was small in stature but must have been in fairly good health. He was very wealthy, owned his own home, and was well known in the area around the town of Jericho.

 

The fact that Zacchaeus was a short man endears him to children, but it is key only in that it serves the story so well. “He was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.” When Jesus reached that place, He looked up and, calling him by name, told the tax collector to get out of the tree. Why? “Come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”

 

Again, his height helps make the story, but more important is what we know of the man’s character, not his stature. As a tax collector, he had been party to fraud and extortion. Jesus chose to eat with him, not because he was wealthy, well-known or influential. Those are reasons for us to seek certain dinner companions, but not Jesus. The Lord sought him out because of what HE could do for him. He came to seek and to save the lost. Zacchaeus was short, it’s true. Were we casting a film, we would look for someone appropriately modest in height. We might have to look a while to find a person that fits the physical description, but we’d struggle much less merely to find a sinner. Any of us could audition. And Jesus came for us. As we think of the subjects of freedom and personal liberty, it is worthwhile to consider just how much we all have in common.