This past weekend we had the privilege of hosting Ricardo Sanchez as our guest worship leader at Shoreline. It was such an honor for me to be a part of that service! At our rehearsal the day before Ricardo shared some great thoughts with our team. One story has stayed with me all week. He talked about Zacchaeus and how he ran ahead and climbed a tree so he could see Jesus. Ricardo said: leaders go first, they don't look for a way out they look for a way through. They move up higher and gain a different perspective.
Those thoughts really resonated with my heart. And I've actually never considered Zacchaeus a lesson on leadership, so I've stayed here in this story for several days. Reading and re-reading and each day I see something new...it's fascinating actually...
Here is the passage from The Message Luke 19:1-10
The first thing I notice is that he "wanted desperately to see Jesus". Zacchaeus had a desire, a dream. But there was some opposition to this desire. There was a crowd in his way...an obstacle to him seeing what he wanted to see. There is always opposition. Notice that he doesn't pout about it. Waaaa, there is a crowd in my way, I'll never see my desire because of this darn crowd. God, can't you do something about this crowd?
But not only does Zacchaeus have this obstacle in his way, he also has his own limitations. Poor fellow, he's short or as the Sunday School song says, he was a "wee little man". Bummer. If I were Zacchaeus...you might have heard me whine just a bit. I'm so short, I'll always be short, nothing I could do will ever make me taller. God, why did you make me this way? Why couldn't I be tall like Ricardo? :) The truth is we all have limitations that would try to keep us from our desire.
Instead of staying stuck in the muck with his obstacles and resigning himself to his limitations, Zacchaeus does two things. The passage says "he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus." He ran and he climbed. He did what he could do to see what, or in his case who, he wanted to see. He put forth some effort to gain his desire.
The amazing part is that he got so much more than he had bargained for. God is a so much more God! Not only did he get to SEE Jesus, Jesus invited himself over for dinner. Jesus said...Zacchaeus, I want to spend some time with you, let's get to know each other. You matter, You are valued. You were "out" but now you are "in". The meal they shared was so much more than food!
A funny thing happens at this point of the story and it just donned on me today. This place where Zacchaeus' running and climbing intersects with seeing Jesus is a powerful place. The Message says he just stood there, stunned and stammering. Hello! I can identify with this spot. That feeling of whoa, what is going on here? This is way more than I had hoped for and suddenly I feel really, really uncomfortable! I think this is the place where we start to get a glimpse of who Jesus says we are, who he thinks we can be even when we are are so stinkin' short! Jesus didn't dismiss the crowd or miraculously change his stature. Those things don't stand in Jesus' way.
Zacchaeus responds to the love and acceptance of Jesus by making things right with those around him. Taking care of the poor, and making restitution to those he had wronged. Jesus said "Today is salvation day in this home!". Everything changes when Jesus comes on the scene!
My favorite part of the story is summed up in Jesus' last statement. He says "for the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost". We might make the mistake of thinking that Jesus responded to Zacchaeus' efforts. Way to go Zacc, run ahead, climb the tree! You go boy! I'll be waiting for you down the road after you get your act together. Nope, thank goodness. All the while Zacchaeus is seeking to see Jesus...Jesus is seeking him. Seeking, finding and restoring the lost. Beautiful isn't it? Jesus restoring lost sons and lost daughters. Jesus restoring lost or broken desires and dreams. That's what he came to do!