Imagine the excitement generated with the news Jesus is coming to your town.
Even with all the opposition He faced, Jesus still drew huge crowds to observe His movements, and to hear His pronouncements. There was obviously great anticipation and expectation when His approach was known. What may happen? What may He do?
So much was already known and felt about the potential in Jesus. This is why when the news began to spread of His approach, so many would drop everything just to lay eyes on Him.
I wish we had that kind of excitement and anticipation for Jesus today.
Zacchaeus was one of those who you may have thought least affected by the approach of Jesus. If you were looking on from the outside, you would probably have assessed Zacchaeus to be a hard man. Perhaps an embittered man. Whatever had taken place in his life, Zacchaeus had checked out of society and made himself an enemy of the people on behalf of his own fortune. Greed had become his master. At some point in his life, the opportunity presented itself for Zacchaeus to become a tax collector, and Zacchaeus had turned away from friends and family and chosen a path of life most hated by the Jewish people. It was the wealth he could accumulate which made it worth his while to be a hated man.
Usually, with this construct, a man’s heart becomes hard as a rock for self-preservation purposes, if nothing else. It takes a special degree of hardness to endure the thoughts of hatred everyone has for you and for your chosen profession. Wealth is not much compensation for enduring hatred, but for those hard-hearted enough to endure it, wealth becomes their solace.
It is interesting to note how often Jesus interacted with tax collectors. One of His apostles, (Matthew,) had been a tax collector. You would think these particular men would be impossible to reach.
But it reminds us those with the hardest hearts are often the closest to salvation. Zacchaeus’ story reminds us how a hard heart is so often a shield for a brokenness dying to be revealed. Jesus IS the answer for every broken heart – especially those hardened by the evil constructs of this world.