When I was a boy and it came to playing Hide-And-Seek, I was a legend. No one could touch me. In fact, there was one night when I hid in the shadow of a great maple tree and no one could find me. They walked past, they ran around, they nearly stepped over…but no one knew my fantastic hiding spot.
After what seemed like hours of searching, the entire group of kids gave up. They stopped looking. They didn’t even offer to play any more. They just went inside, leaving me in the dark.
From that day on, I played a different game. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be found. I didn’t want to be left out ever again.
And so it was with Zacchaeus. He was tired of hiding from the people. Sure, he collected their taxes and faced ridicule with every Denarii that hit the till. Of course he skimmed a little off the top and endured the glances and sneers. It was his job. This was his life. And over time, he’d developed the ability to avoid eye contact with others. He’d gotten use to hiding in plain sight. He’d grown accustomed to walking the streets in broad daylight and remaining hidden from view.
But one day Jesus showed up and Zacchaeus was no longer isolated and alone. He was no longer just another person on the street. What seemed to be the best spot to see and be seen was the location that, in the end, left him out on a limb. The tree, intended to keep him above the crowd’s attention made him the center of attention.
And soon people weren’t just talking about the taxes and the little tax collector. They were talking about his sins, his business, his distasteful association with Jesus. They were looking at him in new way. He was no longer in the shadows or even hiding in plain view. Now he was standing in the light for all to see.
In fact, he saw himself in a new light and his life was never the same.
No matter what you’ve done, the life you’ve lived, the choices you’ve made, Jesus seeks you. He calls you. He finds you. He invites you to step out of the shadow and into the light. To climb down from your tree and join him for a walk through the crowd, head held high, and into a new life.