During the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He made it increasingly clear to His disciples that He would suffer, be killed, and rise again three days later (Mark 8:31). This was Jesus’ mission on earth, to redeem mankind by sacrificing His life for us (Mark 10:45) and He knew the time had come (Mark 10:31-34). Therefore, Jesus was very focused and determined as He headed for Jerusalem, much to the astonishment and alarm of His disciples (Mark 10:32). Knowing He did not have many days left on earth, He was selective about who to spend His remaining days with.
When Jesus entered Jericho on His way to Jerusalem, He was only supposed to be “passing through” (Luke 19:1). Yet when Jesus came to the sycamore tree, He paused His journey for Zacchaeus, called him by name, and invited Himself to stay at his house that day (Luke 19:5)!
Now, imagine if it’s your last week on earth. Would you spend one day with a stranger, who has a reputation of being a traitor and had enriched himself by cheating people? I will not! But Jesus did just that!
In case you think that Jesus did it to honour Zacchaeus, since he was willing to make a fool of himself by climbing a tree just to catch a glimpse of Jesus (Luke 19:3-4), think again! Luke 19:10 tells us that the ultimate reason for this encounter was that Jesus had “come to seek and save that which was lost.” This encounter had been planned and initiated by Jesus!
Jesus is so unlike all the people! Those around were grumbling that He had gone to befriend a terrible sinner (Luke 19:7), but Jesus said He had actually come to seek and save him!
Yes, there were many other matters that Jesus could have attended to, but He chose to stop at that sycamore tree that day to reach out to Zacchaeus! Jesus will do this for us too! Jesus is busy and has His hands full holding together all creation (Colossians 1:17) and humanly speaking, we are quite insignificant and not worthy of His time and attention. And yet you and I are very much on His mind (Psalm 8:4, 139:1-4 & 17-18) and in His heart (Exodus 39:8-14; Hebrews 7:25). Yes, in and of ourselves, we are not worthy. But what Jesus did for Zacchaeus shows that He has time for you and me and pays attention to us.
Many years ago, I met a believer in Beijing, who shared about her encounter with Jesus. She was a new believer and had turned to Christ because of her marital woes. One day she came home from work feeling depressed because she had been unfairly treated by her supervisor. She skipped dinner and went to her room to sulk and try to sleep off her sadness. When she laid on her bed, she burst into tears and wept bitterly. Momentarily, she sensed a presence. Looking up, she saw a white figure at the end of her bed. Somehow, she sensed it was Jesus.
Lady: Jesus, You’re really kind! I’m so honoured to have You visit me. You must be so busy attending to all the affairs of the universe, and yet You’ve come to visit. I’m truly grateful.
White Figure: It is true that I’m busy, but I have time for you! I’ve come to cheer you up.
Lady: Thank You so much, Jesus! In that case, will You come more often, please?
White Figure: Have you forgotten that I’ve said before, “I will be with you always”?
She felt so encouraged that her depression lifted, and she fell asleep! When she cycled to work the next morning, she caught sight of the same white figure riding a bike behind hers!
There’s no question that Jesus has time for us and pays attention to us. The real question is whether we have time for Jesus and pay attention to Him!
In the lead up to Holy Week, make time for Jesus and pay attention to what He wants to say to you and do in and through you! And continue to make time for Him and pay attention to Him every day thereafter.