I was so excited when I saw the passages for today, knowing that I get to write about them! Psalm 103 has had a particular place in my heart since I memorized the majority of it about 15 years ago. But we’ll get there in a moment.
First of all, let’s talk about this “wee little man.” Perhaps, like me, you can’t read Luke 19 without a certain children’s church song playing in the back of your head. But even in the song’s childlike playfulness, it is soundly biblical. It’s interesting that the Bible does indeed point out that Zacchaeus was little of stature. Luke is known for being detail oriented in his accounts of Scripture, so I think it’s important to note the immediacy of the sequence of events in this chapter.
Zacchaeus was interested in seeing Jesus, but due to his size, he knew that he would not have a very good chance on his own. So he anticipated where Jesus was headed and ran ahead to that point to get the best seat in the house. It’s key to understand that he would have likely never encountered Jesus before this, and without his eagerness and determination, he might never have seen Christ. He made every effort to see Jesus. Would to God that we had the drive to see God like this diminutive man!
Jesus “just happened” to look up in the tree and see this man who so desired to see Him. Undoubtedly, there was no accident about it. Jesus knew he was there and made it a point to address him. God promises that those who seek Him will find Him and Zacchaeus saw that first hand!
You’ll see that it doesn’t take much for Zacchaeus to not only acknowledge his fraudulent behavior, but also to express true repentance and the desire to make restitution. He went from being a swindler to being a steward. And Jesus took this opportunity to segue into a discussion about the coming Kingdom of heaven. You see, they were approaching Jerusalem, and there was a growing idea that Jesus was going to usher in His kingdom by overthrowing the Roman government. (This rumor is also partially why the Pharisees told Jesus to get His disciples in line in vs 38-39.) Jesus explained that, rather than focus on the coming kingdom for their own benefit, they should be diligent workers FOR that kingdom until the Master would come.
He even used the idea of money to illustrate how they should invest in God’s Kingdom. (Remember what happened immediately before this? He was talking with a tiny tax collector about properly handling money.) Then we see the “Triumphal Entry” followed by the overthrow…only it wasn’t the overthrow everyone thought was going to happen! Jesus comes into the city and sees the holy city completely oblivious to the presence of God among them. (John 1:11) He then goes into the temple, the very place where people were supposed to be seeking God, only to see it overrun by people trying to make a profit off of the worship in the temple.
Jesus didn’t overthrow the external attack on the Jews from the Romans, He overthrew the internal attacks on their very purpose of existence from within. He chased those wicked ones from the temple, but they didn’t go quietly. From this point on, the religious leaders would do everything they could, from bribing a traitor to falsifying testimonies in court, in order to destroy Jesus.
But back to our “wee little man.” What if Jesus had just walked right by and never said anything to Zacchaeus? What if Jesus had just not cared? What if Jesus had agreed with everyone around Him that this guy was to puny to worry about, and too crooked to talk to? This brings us to Psalm 103 and one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible.
God has given us so much and we overlook His goodness so often. He gives forgiveness, healing, redemption, kindness, mercy, strength, provision, righteousness, and judgment. He hasn’t given us the cold shoulder we deserve, nor worse yet, the destruction we have earned. But like a father takes pity on the weakness of his children, so too, God cares about us. Verse 14 is the verse that I love: “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” God knows your weakness. He made you! He knows everything there is to know about you, good and bad, and in spite of all that He knows…HE STILL LOVES YOU! Just like He loved Zacchaeus enough to call him down out of that tree, He calls to you and to me, desiring to dwell with us.
God knew Zacchaeus and all of his wrongdoings. He knew everything about him. He knew that he was a body of dust and He knows the same about you. When you feel too weak or inadequate today, take comfort that God knows. He knows your weakness and he loves you like a father loves his weak child. Take comfort in that today!