Come with me to the streets of Jericho. The streets are crowded. The Jews are heading to Passover. The Pharisees seem to have a plot that is about to unfold. Something, however, is different this day; Jesus of Nazareth is about to pass by. The crowds will build and spill over into every nook and cranny. In this crowd, there is one man who seems to be alright outwardly, yet is miserable inwardly, and will have an opportunity that will lead to great rejoicing…for everybody!This is the story of Zacchaeus. The Hebrew word for his name means pure. But Zac’s reputation is anything but pure. What he did was legal, but it was very sinful. We live in a society today where sin is becoming legal (i.e. homosexuality and marijuana). This man was a hated man. No one would put on their Facebook wall on Sunday afternoon, “Going to spend time with Zac today!” He was hated because of his greed and thievery. He was a dishonest extortionist at best, much like the recent accounts of a Bernie Madoff. Jews hated him as he would take from them and give to the Roman government.
Zac had a hole in his soul that money could not fill. He was miserable. His misery is found all throughout our country as men seek after wealth and other materialistic things to fill a void. Zac had heard that Jesus was to pass by and he wanted to see this man. We are not sure what he had heard about Jesus, but his curiosity took him to the streets to find a spot to see Jesus. The streets were full and Zac was short. So he climbed up in a sycamore tree.
God’s Word is so very rich. Everything is for a purpose with God. Did you know that the sycamore tree of this area is a type of fig tree? The fruit is very sweet. The tree itself can grow approximately 65 feet high and 20 feet wide! It’s a beautiful tree with heart-shaped leaves. One of the amazing things about this tree is the similarity of the amazing events about to happen in this man called Zac. The word sycamore is a derivative of the Hebrew word “sycma” which means – RESTORATION. Isn’t that interesting? This man was about to be rescued from his sin and restored by the grace of God with a new holy desire to offer restitution to all those people he had wronged. The people of the city of Jericho (especially those who knew Zac) were in for a surprise that would include much rejoicing! In addition, this tree is regenerative in nature. The word regenerative means: “Denoting a method of breaking in which energy is extracted from the parts broken, to be stored and reused”.
Jesus is the Master Restorer! It is amazing to me how many addictions have a “spiritual” element to them, but no matter how much you chase after it, it never fills that void. Jesus fills the void. Here is a guilty man, up in a tree, trying to get closer to God when Jesus stopped by, told him to come down, and basically proclaimed, “In a little while, I am going to climb upon a tree to take the place for all your sin; and not for yours only, but for the sins of the whole world. It is not you hanging from a tree that will get you closer to me; it is me hanging on a tree, bridging the gap for you to be close to me.” Jesus said, “For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Restoration is the work of God changing us. He rescues, restores, and gives us new desires that include restitution with others as the restoring process continues. I am sure some people on that crowded street that day grouped together later to rejoice as Zac made things right with those he had offended and taken advantage of. Repentance plus restoration plus restitution always equals rejoicing. Where is God working in you and through you today? Is He attempting to rescue you? Follow Him today! Is He restoring you? Fasten your every thought to Him. Is He seeking to reconcile you to someone you have hurt? Find them, and let God’s grace work in you and through you to make restitution (a work that God is doing for you and others).