Every time I read this story about Zacchaeus climbing up the sycamore tree to see Jesus because he was a short man, I think of the old ‘70s song Short People by Randy Newman. The song was (and still is) controversial, mostly because it often gets misinterpreted as being prejudiced against short people. Indeed, it might seem easy to think this since there are lyrics such as “short people got no reason to live.” But the song was really the converse; it was an attack on the pervasive prejudice of the day, and an attempt to heighten the awareness of the inability to recognize others different from ourselves. “Short people are the same as you and I. All men are brothers until the day they die” is the real message within the song.
At first glance of the story of the short Zacchaeus, it seems to be about his inability to see. But the real heart of the story is that Zacchaeus is unable to see because the other people are obstacles to his sight. In turns out that Jesus is the only person who truly sees Zacchaeus. No one else sees. No one else seems to care. While everyone else is busy with their own line of sight, Jesus is concerned to see the one who is unseen – Zacchaeus. And here is the reason why: “The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost,” said the Lord Jesus.
The most pertinent application of this story for us is that we need to repent of being obstacles to others coming to Jesus, and instead become the conduits to others meeting with Jesus. People who are short on faith, short on hope, and short on love desperately need the love of God in the gracious person of Jesus Christ. What will you do today to help another see Jesus?
All-seeing God, you are attentive to those most in need of your Son, the Lord Jesus. Open my eyes to see those around me for whom you see and invite to be with Jesus. I want to participate with you in your great saving mission of those who are lost. Amen.