(Luke 19:1-10) As a kid, I used to love watching The Price is Right. One of the best parts was when they’d pick the contestants out of the audience. I can still hear the announcer call someone by name, then say, “Come on down!” The look of total surprise and excitement on each face was priceless, and I couldn’t help but smile.
Whenever I read the story of Zacchaeus, I imagine him with the same incredulous expression. As Jesus calls his name, he must have cried out, “Who, me?” Zacchaeus is astounded that he is noticed at all. He clearly has no intention of speaking to Jesus, but simply wants to see who He is – this man who could perform miracles and draw tremendous crowds. As a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus was one of Jericho’s rich and powerful. So what is it that prompts him to do something as crazy as climb a tree that day? Not exactly the kind of behaviour you’d expect from someone of his standing.
Maybe it was just curiosity. But perhaps it was something much deeper. By worldly standards, Zacchaeus had “made it.” He had all the things that supposedly make us happy – wealth, position, and power. Yet he is still searching, looking for something more. He unashamedly scales the tree, hoping to catch a glimpse of Jesus but is afforded so much more. Zacchaeus is accustomed to enduring scowls and insults when he goes out in public. Instead, as the throngs come near, he hears Christ call out to him saying, “I must stay at your house today” (Lk 19:5). Face to face with the merciful love of Jesus, Zacchaeus is compelled to respond. In that moment, he repents of any wrongdoing and vows to change his life.
What God offers us – the prize to which we aspire – is infinitely more valuable than anything money could buy. It’s priceless and eternal. Like Zacchaeus, the Lord calls each of us by name, inviting us to a life with Him. We aren’t contestants in a game show – the questions we must confront each day are real and demand an answer. The answer we seek is Jesus. Once we encounter His unconditional love, we cannot help but be changed.
– Kelley Holy