Big as Life
Zacchaeus was a wee little man
and a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see . . .
Another song? Really?! A children’s song no less. I don’t recall learning a song about Zacchaeus when I was a child. My upbringing didn’t involve anything Christian until my mother came to the Lord in my pre-teens. And I certainly didn’t sing it to my daughter, because I was an alcoholic and drug addict in her early years.
But there it was, popping into my head as if we were long-time friends (and I kind of wish it would go away because now it’s stuck there). I’ve come to realize over the decades that if something catches my attention, there’s probably a hidden nugget of truth beneath the surface. Granted, I’ve hit some dead ends—promising thoughts that turned out to be fly-by shootings—but unless I dig a little deeper, I never know.
So, what about Zacchaeus did I discover? First off, Luke 19 says Zacchaeus was a little man, which makes for a cute visual. Probably not so edifying for a guy. Depending on the Bible version, Zacchaeus was short, small in stature, little of stature. We get the picture. I’m speculating of course, but isn’t it human nature to worry about that sort of thing? If it wasn’t, Jesus wouldn’t have said, And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life (Matthew 6:27 AMPL)? Until the Lord graces us to accept and become comfortable in our own skin, there’s the usual wrestling through being too tall, too round, our noses too big, hair too fine, too thick, or missing altogether. Or being short like Zacchaeus.
For all we know, he could very well have been an over-achiever, out to prove his worth or manliness in other ways to compensate for his shortness. Through his profession, for instance. He was a tax collector. A successful one at that. But tax collectors were viewed as traitors to their own because they were employed by the deplorable Romans. Many were crooks, exacting more than was lawful. Thus, they were usually well-to-do, but not too well liked.
That didn’t stop Zacchaeus from hiking up his long tunic and robe, and scrambling up a nearby Sycamore tree to get a look at Jesus. Did the wee-little man have no shame? If the gathered crowd had had iPhones back in the day, chances are they would’ve blasted his picture over the world-wide web, perhaps adding a funny little meme to bring a laugh or two. Or they would’ve shunned him. Obviously, no one took pity on his inability to see over their watermelon heads or let him squeeze through the shoulder-to-shoulder barrier blocking his way.
Zacchaeus may have been short in stature, but Jesus saw him big as life. He who said you can’t add one cubit to your stature, saw Zacchaeus’s hunger, his determination in the face of obstacles, inconvenience, and ridicule. He foresaw fruits of repentance and faith, a field waiting to be harvested (John 4:35).
Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:5).
Salvation came to Zacchaeus and his whole house that day because of Zacchaeus’s faith. Which is noteworthy in and of itself for those of us believing for our families to be saved (Luke19:9; Acts16:31,33–34 AMPL).
Then there’s the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43–48). Twelve years she suffered. And all she had to show for it was a worsened condition, financial ruin, and prolonged shame associated with menstrual impurity (Leviticus 15:25). I can’t imagine her struggles with maintaining good personal hygiene all that time either.
Did the pressing throng around Jesus notice her? Did they care that she had resorted to crawling around on all fours among their shuffling feet to get close enough to reach the hem of His garment? Probably not. No one would’ve taken note till they tripped over her. But Jesus saw her, or should I say, He felt her hunger and undaunting faith connect with His power.
“Who touched me?”
With the grand spotlight turned on her, the woman testified of her healing before the masses. Despite her weakened condition, and the indignity associated with her condition, her determined faith paid off.
The blind man sitting by the roadside begging when Jesus passed by (Mark 10:46–52)—who would notice him when beggars were so commonplace? Unless he made a ruckus.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The poor man could’ve backed down, shamed into silence at the rebukes of the crowd. Unoffended, he cried out all the more. And gained his sight.
Story after story testifies to seemingly insignificant people exercising big-as-life faith. We mustn’t forget that Jesus always sees what the world doesn’t, can’t, and won’t see in us (1 John 3:1). And He answers. He alone is the remedy for every one of our hang-ups, our pain, our many diverse needs. This is not the time to become dull and complacent in our pursuit of Him. Or silenced, or apologetic of our faith in Him in the face of obstacles, resistance, ridicule, or shame.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12). Jesus isn’t speaking of gun-toting, mob-mentality violence—but hungry, determined, unoffended faith in our pursuit of Him.
I don’t want to be an average, pew-warming Christian. And I know you don’t either.
Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man (a traditional Christian children’s song)