The Importance of Pain
Sandwiched between stories of resurrections, supernatural healings and a man who walked on water and turned water to wine is a little, not-so-miraculous story. But for those of us with deformities, handicaps, broken hearts, addictions and sundry shortcomings, the story of Zacchaeus has a more miraculous message than perhaps we give it credit for.
Zacchaeus was a wee little man; you remember the Sunday school song. A man despised by his Hebrew community for his greedy allegiance to the Romans as a tax collector. One afternoon, Jesus came into his town. As always, Jesus was surrounded by a mob of the curious, suspicious and incredulous. Perhaps simply out of his own curiosity, Zacchaeus longed to see Jesus, too. But his measly stature afforded him only the view of other men’s backsides.
So Zacchaeus lay aside his pride and climbed a Sycamore tree that extended its branches over the path Jesus was traveling. There, he beheld Jesus from a distance. Zacchaeus’ disadvantage became the very thing that drove him up a tree to seek Jesus. His weakness compelled him to go to great lengths to see the man some had begun to call Messiah.
But Zacchaeus could only see Jesus from a distance. Branches loomed and swayed through his vision and he had a hard time keep track of Jesus for the crowd. Suddenly, Jesus looked up and caught sight of the tiny man in a tree and called out, “Zacchaeus, come down! For today I must stay at your house.”
Zacchaeus carefully descended the tree, the crowd parted and before he knew it, he found himself close enough to touch the miracle man.
Do you sometimes believe that your shortcomings, addictions, sins, failures, handicaps and deformities keep you from seeing, let alone being seen by God? Like Zacchaeus’s height, they have that potential. But also like Zacchaeus’ height, the awareness of your brokenness can drive you to seek Jesus. The beauty of the story is that God did not settle for giving Zacchaeus a glimpse of his Savior, but turned His sovereign eyes upon this little man and called him to Himself.
Lest you think that it was mere accident that Zacchaeus was short and that he took it upon himself to seek Jesus, remember that Jesus is also the Creator. He was the one who selected Zacchaeus’s exact measurements and planned to use them for His glory and Zacchaeus’ salvation.
Do not despise your weaknesses. Do not resign yourself to a distant view of your Savior. But let your brokenness be the catalyst that drives you to great lengths and tremendous heights to find Him. The Bible says that when we seek Him, we will find Him, and that He is not far from any of us. So gather all your infirmities and scramble up the nearest tree. He will call you to Himself and come in and stay with you.
References for additional study: John 14:23, Luke 19, Jeremiah 29:13