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Jesus’ Transforming Touch

Luke 19: 1-10

“Hey, Shorty! What’s your rush?”

“Shorty! I hate that name! If I weren’t in such a hurry I’d collar that smartmouth and raise his taxes a few hundred denarii!”

They used to call him Shorty when he was a kid, but few dared to now. He was the chief tax collector, he was wealthy, and he could make life very miserable for anyone who upset his giant ego.

The winding streets of Jericho were almost impassable. Donkeys. Carts. People. People everywhere.

“I hope I don’t see anyone I know. Here I am, acting just as crazy as everybody else. Pushing and shoving. And for what? To see a self-proclaimed prophet! But I’ve got to see Him. I’ve just got to see Him! Story after story of how He’s changed people . . . and God knows I need a change! I’m probably the most hated man in town. My cronies hang around like vultures. Huh. I could safely say that I don’t have a friend — a single friend. I wonder about my wife’s love at times . . . really messed up.

“But why would anyone love me? Eh, I’ve made my own bed — I know that. But I’m sick of sneers and catcalls wherever I go. I’m sick of living in a virtual palace surrounded by people who hate my guts . . . wondering which servants are loyal . . . having to have someone taste my soup and my wine just in case. . . I hate what I have become. I have what I’ve always wanted, and I’m sick of all of it! I’d change places with my gardener if I could. I am a wretched, unhappy man! Get out of my way, you peons! Don’t you know who you’re shoving around? Drat this new robe. It’s tripping me.

“There He is. Over there surrounded by that simpering mass of sick people. But I can’t see Him! Wait, I’ll climb this sycamore tree. Who would ever believe that the leading tax collector of Jericho was climbing a stupid tree to see what was going on? I’ve slipped a notch or two.

“There. There He is. And He’s walking this way! Is He looking at me? I’m up here — in the sycamore tree. Hey! Look this way. . . .”

“Hello, Zaccheus! You have a ringside seat, don’t you My friend? Well, hurry and come down. I must stay at your house today.”

Try to imagine the surprise, the warmth of wonder that came over Zaccheus. . . .

He smiled at Jesus and then ripped a big hole in his fancy new garment as he half climbed and half fell down from his high position.

The crowds parted to let them walk through, but he could hear them grumbling about Jesus going to his house for a meal. He heard the names they were calling him. And he knew Jesus heard them, too.

They walked in silence for a while, and then Zaccheus said, “Lord, I’ve mistreated a lot of people in my life, and I really can’t blame them for the things they say. But, Lord, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone, I’ll give him back four times as much! I will.”

“Why, I know you will. I’ve been watching you — looking forward to our meeting today. And I saw you climbing up in the sycamore tree. Pretty good stunt for a man your size and age. Today, Zaccheus, salvation has come to your house.”

“I just had to see You, Lord. Somehow or another I knew this was it for me. I couldn’t have gone on. But You knew that too, of course.

“By the way, Lord, my friends call me Shorty.”

* * *

Zaccheus left two “high positions” that day.

His new performance was in keeping with who he became after the Lord touched his life. I would like to have been with him as he became a different man, watching the incredulous looks that would follow him as he went from house to house, giving instead of taking. I’m confident that he found great joy in his work. He probably sold his big, fine house, started spending time with his wife and his children, started having the most unsuspected, unpretentious guests over for supper.

Oh, I know. I’m putting words in his mouth. I’m adding details that aren’t there. I’m drawing a picture of a man I’ve never seen and I’m speculating on the changes that took place in his life. But the point is this: Jesus causes people to change.

Don’t be afraid to climb up into the tree.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.