He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. Luke 18:3-4
Zacchaeus, the tax collector, was a short, little man. Just as other tax collectors, he was hired by the Romans to bang on the doors of God’s people and get them to pay their taxes to Rome. They were hated by the Hebrew people. As short as he was, Zacchaeus bowed his head even lower, as he walked about the streets of Jerusalem. He didn’t look at others in the eye, so that he wouldn’t have to catch their dirty looks.
Watch how all this changes when he learns that Jesus is coming down the main street. He climbs up a tree to get a better look, way above the crowd, who were so very happy that Jesus was passing by. His face and head are up. Jesus and he make eye contact; a gentle shock of joy passes through Zaccaheus’s body as he and Jesus smile at each other. That was the beginning of a new life for him. Next comes the joy of a meal together and a life dedicated to serving Jesus.
As happens this year, very often this Gospel occurs on All Saints’ Sunday. Just as I sat on my Dad’s shoulders when I was a child, just as Zacchaeus in the tree, it is as though we are sitting on the shoulders of beautiful friends and relatives, saints who have passed on to us, their faith in Jesus and were filled with his love. They helped us to see Jesus more clearly and to follow him more closely. Let us thank God for all the saints in our lives.
On Sundays we follow the Gospels from the Revised Common Lectionary.
These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook. You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.