...Zacchaeus looked down the dirt road that came into Jericho and he saw a crowd of people coming his way.
Back then, everybody was taking about a guy named Jesus. Everywhere Jesus went, people who were sick got better, people who couldnt walk could walk again, people who were blind could see again. Jesus was a pretty amazing guy! And everybody wanted to see just who this Jesus guy was. Including Zacchaeus.
The only trouble was, everywhere Jesus went there were always crowds of people all around him - and remember, Zacchaeus was a little man. He knew that hed never be able see over a great crowd of people.
Zacchaeus ran up to the edge of the crowd and stood on his tiptoes to see what the big deal was.
But all he could see were the backs of peoples heads.
He tried jumping up and down. He bounced from one side and then to the other. But still he couldnt see.
But then, on one lucky bounce, he saw the man at the center of the crowd. It was Jesus!
Zacchaeus tried to push his way through the crowd, but everyone wanted to see Jesus, and they wouldnt let him through.
What could he do? He wanted to see Jesus too!
Then Zacchaeus turned around and saw a sycamore tree growing right beside the road Jesus was walking along.
Zacchaeus had an idea!
He ran on ahead and climbed up the Sycamore tree. He didnt care if he looked silly or not. He wanted to see Jesus!
Sure enough, Jesus stopped right under the sycamore tree. He looked up, and there was Zacchaeus peeking through the branches.
Zacchaeus! Jesus said to him, Hurry down from there!
I must stay at your house today!
How does he know my name??! Zacchaeus thought to himself. But he does! He knows my name! And he wants to come and stay at MY house!
Zacchaeus flew down that tree quicker than you could say Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus sitting in a tree.
When his feet hit the ground, he was so happy he nearly did a little dance! But thats just what Jesus does to people. Jesus laughed and slapped his arm around Zacchaeuss shoulder, and together they started off towards Zacchaeuss house.
But the people in the crowd were not so happy.
They had spent all day in the hot sun following Jesus, and now he was going to stay at the house of Zacchaeus, a rich, cheating tax collector. They began to grumble about Zacchaeus...
This man is a sinner! one woman said.
He cheats and steals from his own people! said an old man.
He isnt good enough for Jesus to come and stay at his house!
Zacchaeus heard what the people were saying about him, and he must have known that they were right. So he said, Listen! I will give half of everything I have to the poor! And if I cheated anyone, I will pay them back four times as much!
Jesus was going to be a guest at his house. And what do you do when you are expecting company? You clean things up!
Thats just what Zacchaeus did. Only he cleaned himself up on the inside first. Zacchaeus wanted to make things right for Jesus. He was so happy that Jesus wanted to come to his house, he wanted to make Jesus happy too.
And Jesus WAS happy!
Jesus said to Zacchaeus, Today salvation has come to this house!
Your life was all wrong, but now it is all right. You were lost, but now you have been saved!
That why I am here. I came to find and save the lost!
Zacchaeus was a little man, but now he felt ten feet tall!