Have you ever heard the saying ‘he is five foot nothing’? It’s an old fashioned description of someone who is small in stature, a colloquial expression for all the vertically challenged out there… maybe you belong to this club. We know that big things often come in very small packages… allow me to introduce you to Zacchaeus.
It’s Luke 19 and Jesus has come to visit the city of Jericho, Zacchaeus, this pint-sized Jewish swindler has heard about the God-man from Nazareth and he’s keen to get a close look at the one who isn’t just about lofty words like the chief priest he knows so well, the one they call Jesus has actions that bind his words together.
One minor problem, the Bible tells us that our man Zach was the quintessential ‘five foot nothing’ and simply couldn’t see our Saviour King, so he climbed a tree in order to catch a glimpse of what eternity looked like.
The Gospels are full of amazing encounters of the Jesus kind, think of the prostitute and His ‘sand art’, or the time when He spat in the eye of a blind man, not to mention His desert experience when He metaphorically beat the devil with a loaf of bread.
This moment with Zacchaeus has the same level of impact, where worlds collide, where angels stand in awe and humanity stands still; the story in Luke 19 is nothing short of a beautiful exchange.
This narrative inspires a thought that bounces around my head and my soul, it’s a question really but when amplified becomes a statement, relentless and tormenting but relevant and timely: am I so desperate to just catch a glimpse of Him that I would follow the actions of Zacchaeus and climb a tree? To break through myself with reckless abandonment and shine for Him despite what it might look like, or what people, my work mates, my friends or my family might think.
There is a cultural context to believe that Zacchaeus given his profession and stature was not held in high regard, while being very wealthy it’s likely he had no real friends to share it with… No matter how rich he was, it’s a fair guess that he in truth was very poor… until he climbed that tree.
The community would have said of him, “he is a swindler, a cheat, he is Rome’s puppet boy skimming off the top and stealing from his own people … he is five foot nothing.”
But Scripture tells us he was five foot everything… and so are you!