“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully… And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’” Luke 19:5-6,9-10
Have you ever read a choose-your-own adventure book? I used to love them…at first. I would eagerly dive into a choose-your-own-adventure book, determined to create the best adventure that could possibly be had in a little over 100 pages. I was excited about the limitless possibilities that awaited me once I opened the book.
I would start the book, and in about three “choices,” I would always end up at a page where I would get lost in the woods or chased by a bear, and just like that, the story was over. I would flip back and forth through the book, trying to make my adventure a great one, but I would always be disappointed with the outcome.
In Luke 19, we meet a man who decided to choose his own adventure. Zacchaeus had chosen to make his adventure about himself. He was a tax collector who, instead of taking only what people owed to the government, took way more money so he could be rich. It might have seemed like a great adventure to him at the time.
Imagine how many great things he could buy with all that extra money, the fun things he could do! But Zacchaeus’s adventure, one that was supposed to be so great, ended up like the ones in the books I read- disappointing and not fun at all. Zacchaeus was lonely. No one would be his friend because he had cheated everyone.
Zacchaeus was so lonely and sad that he climbed up in a tree to see Jesus (because Zacchaeus was short as well as sad and lonely), hoping that Jesus could be better than the joyless adventure he was trying to live. Imagine his surprise when Jesus calls Zacchaeus, a friendless, short, dishonest guy, down from the tree and invites himself to Zacchaeus’s house. Wow!
Jesus not only was a friend to Zacchaeus, He called Zacchaeus to give up his old adventure, which he had made all about himself, and invited him to experience the best adventure of all- life with Jesus!
I know what I think sometimes when I read this story- this is great, but I’m not like Zacchaeus.
So I get a zero out of four on the Zacchaeus quiz. If I look more closely though, my heart looks more like Zacchaeus’s than I care to admit. Maybe yours does too.
Like Zacchaeus, I set off on an adventure that’s all about me and not about Jesus. I kept trying to choose the choices that looked like they’d bring the most fun and life and happiness, but I ended up disappointed with the outcome. And like Zacchaeus, I was amazed when Jesus loved me even though I’d tried to live life without Him.
That’s the incredible thing about Jesus- He is determined to love us even when we wander far from Him. He is determined to give us an adventure that is not about us, but is about Him; and promises that it will be a great one.