The tree Zaccheus climbs — to obtain a view of the approaching Jesus — is likely massive, its limbs providing a wonderfully wide, flat spot to sit and observe. Zaccheus climbs the huge Sycamore tree because he is too short to see over the crowd. Knowing the path Jesus is to take, Zaccheus runs ahead of the approaching Lord.
Jesus walks right up to the Sycamore tree in which the rich tax collector is sitting, looks up at Zaccheus and tells him to “make haste, and come down.” (Luke 19:5, KJV)
Zaccheus has been rushing around all day trying to “see Jesus, who He is.” (Luke 19:3) Now Jesus is directly below his perch, as if He Himself has been looking for Zaccheus. Jesus says, “Today I must abide at thy house.” (Luke 19:5) This rich tax collector is absolutely thrilled with what appears to be his great luck. He climbs down the big tree as quickly as he is able, “and receives [Jesus] joyfully.”
The crowd feels unlucky, and even annoyed. “They all murmur, saying that [Jesus] is gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.” (Luke 19:7) Perhaps Zaccheus is embarrassed, knowing the peoples’ hatred of his profession and therefore of him, for he says to Jesus, “Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold.” (Luke 19:8)
People in the crowd may not be impressed, but Jesus is happy. He says, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10) He turns to Zaccheus, and welcomes him into the kingdom of heaven: “This day is salvation come to this house.” (Luke 19:9)
Dear Father God, thank You for Your desire to seek and save that which is lost — us. Thank You that Jesus was looking for Zaccheus even more than Zaccheus was looking for Him. In Your Son’s Name, amen.