Second Chances - ZACCHAEUS
What are your first thoughts when you hear the name Zacchaeus? They’re probably not particularly positive. However, Zacchaeus is someone from the Bible who I’ve always felt like I can relate to. Not because I am wealthy, or because I enjoy taking more money than I’m owed, but because we’re both very short! If you’re like me, one of your favourite songs from Sunday School was “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he”. If you haven’t heard of it, make sure you look it up! I can completely understand the frustration that Zacchaeus was feeling when he couldn’t see Jesus through the crowds!
In April 2011, my family went to London for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. We woke up nice and early (around 4am) and stood opposite Downing Street to see the carriages riding past. We had a front row position; the early start was totally worth it. We got to see everyone in their beautiful outfits and the atmosphere was amazing. A significant part of many Royal occasions is the family standing out on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, so we rushed there to hopefully see the big moment. I missed it in its entirety because I’m short and couldn’t see above the crowds. If I had been allowed to climb a tree at that moment, I would have seen without a doubt! I knew how significant that event was to see the future King and Queen of England on their wedding day. Yet, the King that Zacchaeus wanted to see was infinitely more significant than Prince William. He is the King of Kings and the greatest King that has been and ever will be. This is the King that is the door to forgiveness and an eternity in Heaven.
Now, I can only begin to imagine how I would have felt if Prince William told me that day that he wanted to come to my house for dinner – it seems ridiculous! The people in Jericho thought the same when Jesus asked this request of Zacchaeus. You can’t blame the crowds for thinking, “The tax collector who has cheated us all out of our money… Jesus wants to visit his house?”
It seems unfair – he doesn’t deserve it! Well, none of us deserve Jesus’ sacrifice. None of us deserve God’s forgiveness. None of us deserve to spend an eternity in Heaven.
BUT God is a God of second chances! We, as humans, are so quick to rule people off, not least those that have wronged us but thankfully, God isn’t like that!
The crowds of Jericho underestimated the power of Jesus in human hearts. They thought Zacchaeus was so far gone, but nothing or no one is unfixable for Jesus. Luke 19:8 tells us that Zacchaeus gave half of his possessions to the poor and paid people back four times the amount that he’d cheated them. Zacchaeus was rescued by Jesus on that very day, not because of the good he did after his salvation, but because Jesus loved him just as he was and was willing to give him another chance.
This is great news for us! We mess up several times a day. We would have no hope of a personal relationship with God if He had a ‘one strike and you’re out’ approach. The story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 ends with Jesus saying, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Don’t be fooled – we’re just as lost as Zacchaeus was before God saves us. Thankfully, God is willing to save us and Jesus carried the weight of our sins to the cross.
He’s willing to give us all a second chance!