Zacchaeus, the “chief tax collector,” was a man who got what he wanted.
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” —Luke 19.1–5
On that day he wanted to see Jesus. We don’t know exactly why. Some speculate, given his response in verse six, “…received him joyfully” that he may have been a believer, a follower of Jesus before this time. Regardless, he wanted to see Jesus and let nothing stand in his way.
There’s an endearing storyline in the Lethal Weapon movies series. It involves Leo Getz, who makes his appearance in Lethal Weapon 2, introducing himself as “Leo Getz…get it? Whatever you want Leo gets.” Leo wanted to belong. He wanted to be part of the camaraderie of Riggs and Murtaugh. And he was determined. Nothing deterred him. No matter how badly Riggs and Murtaugh treated him, used him, abused him, he hung in there. He was determined and he’s finally accepted in Lethal Weapon 5, sealed by the Froggy Story:
Leo Getz: Just give me a second let me tell you this okay…Eh I had this pet frog, his name was froggy he was my best friend in the whole world, I didn’t have a lot of friends, as a matter of fact okay I had no friends, and eh I used to kiss the frog too, I thought maybe eh that it would turn into a princess since I was a boy, and eh it could be my mother, they told me that she left or something, and my father was no bargain, and so just the frog, froggy was my friend and I really loved him, and I took him everywhere with me, and I was riding on my bike one day and he jumped out of the box, and eh I ran him over with the back tire I killed him, I was really heartbroken, really, he was my best friend in the whole world, the only thing I ever loved and then I met you and roger, and you guys really looked after me a lot more then you had to.
Martin Riggs: I am terrible to you Leo.
Leo Getz: No no, it’s okay, it’s okay, you are my family, you are my friends… you are not better friends then froggy, you are just different, and eh, I just thought that maybe that might be relevant… okay I leave you alone now.
Leo considered himself “family” long before Riggs and Murtaugh “adopted him.” He had a lot going against him. I mean if you watch the movies, he was really a disgusting little guy; he was crude, dishonest, a cheat, a liar and the list could go on. But, he was determined.
Think of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus had all sorts of things stacked against him for God to use him:
- he was a tax collector—not just any tax collector, but the chief tax collector; one can only imagine the graft he was getting in that position; meaning that he…
- was rich by dishonest means
- he was short
- he was a disgrace to his name, which means “righteous one”
Even so, God used him. He heard the call of Jesus, “…come down, for I must stay at your house today.” He was determined; he climbed the tree. He wanted to see Jesus. He responded to the call.
The divine call. This is where the comparison with Leo Getz breaks down. Leo became part of the family out his sheer determination. Zacchaeus became part of God’s family because of divine intervention in his life and his obedient response.
No one is beyond the scope of God’s salvation. The Gospel has no limits. Our need for the Gospel does not end with our salvation experience. We need the Gospel everyday. We need to be reminded of our calling everyday.