Luke 19:5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
We have no record whatsoever of any previous interaction between Jesus and Zacchaeus, but Luke records that He called him by name on sight. This brings to mind Jesus calling Nathanael as His disciple. (John 1:44-51) I don’t think Jesus operated in omniscience, knowing absolutely everything. I think that would have totally overloaded His genuinely human brain. However, He operated freely in what Paul called the Word of Knowledge, as a gift of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:8) I’ve experienced that occasionally, and my wife rather more often, to the great consternation of people to whom we have ministered! To use a modern analogy, it was like the Holy Spirit acted as Google Glasses for Jesus, filling Him in on whatever He needed to know. In any case, Jesus always used the information He was given for good. The NIV says He told Zacchaeus, “I must stay at your house today.” The Japanese doesn’t have quite that emphasis, but renders it as, “It is settled that I will stay at your house today.” In either case, Jesus wasn’t giving Zacchaeus any options! In hospitals today, patients are involved in the decision process as to their treatment, for a number of reasons. However, the Great Physician doesn’t always operate that way! He knew it would take shock treatment to break through the shell Zacchaeus had built up so he could continue his lifestyle of becoming rich by selling out his countrymen to the Romans. I think that once the shock wore off, Zacchaeus’ major emotion was relief. What happened after this is a familiar story, and a powerful example of redemption. Much has been made about Jesus’ statement that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25) However, Zacchaeus is proof that, as Jesus said right after that, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) Zacchaeus is a demonstration that repentance and faith for salvation are possible for anyone, if they will accept it as a gift from God.
I learned this story, and the song that goes with it, as a young child. I think the reason it’s taught to little children is the fact that Zacchaeus was short, too short to see over the crowd. Children can certainly identify with that! However, children haven’t had time to build up the sort of shell that Zacchaeus doubtless had. This really is a story of the fact that no one is beyond redemption, and that is an adult truth indeed. I recall one time when I was given a word of knowledge as I was counseling someone over the telephone. I didn’t state it directly, but what I said made it clear I knew what the person had been up to, and it was sufficient to shock them to repentance. Conversely, there have been people who have been so afraid of what God would tell Cathy about them that they have completely distanced themselves from us. It all comes down to a willingness to repent. I can’t generate that in anyone, but I can pray for it, and continue to speak the truth in love, whether it is a Biblical truth or something God reveals to me about that person. We are all dependent on the grace and mercy of God.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It brought back a lot of memories, as well as bringing to mind current situations. I ask for Your wisdom and guidance as to what to say to whom, when, so that Your Word to them may have the result for which You send it, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!