Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.
Zacchaeus was not a good person. As we learned last week, people despised tax collectors. Zacchaeus was not just a tax collector – but was the chief tax collector!
Zacchaeus may likely have suffered from what we might call a Napoleon complex (although he lived long before Napoleon). A Napoleon complex is an informal term describing a psychology that is said to exist in persons, usually men, of short stature. People with a Napoleon complex compensate for their short stature by being overly aggressive and domineering.
So here you have Zacchaeus, short, the chief of the thieves, living the high life – nice house, great food, all the luxuries who is also aggressive and domineering.
We consider what may have motivated Zacchaeus to see Jesus. He certainly heard of Jesus, and likely knew Jesus’ reputation – He was a healer, a prophet, and was known to have broken the rules by spending time with sinners. Jesus invited a tax collector to follow Him (Luke 5), His feet were bathed by the tears of a prostitute (Luke 7), He healed those possessed by evil (Luke 8, 9, 11), tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him (Luke 15:1).
The power of grace moved Zacchaeus to see Jesus. He was moved to do whatever it took to see Him. He was moved by the possibility of Jesus, the remote chance that Jesus might notice him and heal the smallness of his soul.
Zacchaeus’ hopes were met when Jesus stopped, looked up, and said “Zacchae’us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”
Grace motivated Zacchaeus to seek the Lord, and the Lord replied to Zacchaeus’ response, not just by saying ‘you are forgiven,’ but by emphatically stating that He MUST stay with Him. Zacchaeus did whatever it took and Jesus answered. Zacchaeus was raised up out of sin and into new life – repenting and doing whatever it took to make his life right before God: And Zacchae’us stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
We are given grace every day, called to do whatever it takes to be raised from smallness of life to greatness of life in Christ. Jesus notices when we respond, and He responds by staying with us, healing us, freeing us, and making us great in the kingdom of heaven.