His name means “pure” or “innocent”, yet he built his lifestyle on corruption and embezzlement. He didn’t care nearly as much about people as he did money and status. He was a very good businessman whose drive and determination had him living a life of luxury. He wanted oversight of the Jericho region because it was the center of the balsam production and exporting. A lot of money was to be made, and he was a go-getter. He submitted his bid to the government and won the job. This was the contract that made him a wealthy man… at great cost to the citizens of the region who hated him for it.
He knew he was hated, but what did he care? He had lived his life as a second-class person most of his life. He grew up oppressed by the ruling class and then ridiculed by his peers because of his appearance. Now that he had money and power, at least he was feared if not loved. He was not a happy man, yet he thought he would be more unhappy without his wealth.
But like all humans, Zachaeus had a God-shaped hole in his soul. The soul was empty, and it caused curiosity about this Jesus who was coming through town. He was so curious that he arrived downtown early to climb a tree so he could see the procession.
Well, guess what? Out of everyone there, Jesus gave special attention to Zachaeus. In fact, Jesus invited himself to the man’s house. Zachaeus was happy to entertain Jesus at his beautiful, ornate mansion.
There is something about the attention of the Lord, something about His presence, His acceptance, His understanding, and His love. There’s something about the peace that comes to our hearts that brings a sense of fulfillment. It’s a fulfillment that money or fame or status never comes close to. As Jesus simply revealed the heart of God to Zachaeus, he changed. He had found love, and his heart was full. He didn’t see his own need, for he didn’t have one anymore. The love he received would also be the love he would give, so he declared that he wanted to give half of his wealth to the poor. He would also give back to all he had stolen from, times four.
Christmas is all about God giving to us. There is nothing about the Christmas message that demands anything from us. It’s about God’s attention, His presence, His acceptance, His understanding, His love, something about the peace that comes to our hearts that brings a sense of fulfillment. It’s a fulfillment that money or fame or status never comes close to. Friend, let’s be very aware of the Love and presence that really makes our lives joyful and full.