‘Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 1For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”’
– Luke 19:1-10, New International Version
Jesus’ acceptance tells me I am beautiful.
When was the last time you looked in a mirror and wished you had a different face or body?
Our preoccupation with attractiveness ought to make us extremely receptive to the plight of Zacchaeus.
Luke writes about the day Zacchaeus met Jesus in Luke 19. Aside from those with such obvious problems as blindness or lameness, Zacchaeus is the only person in the entire New Testament noted for having a physical disadvantage.
Zacchaeus must have been very, very short for his size to have drawn attention to him.
Pause to imagine what life must have been like for him. Tax collectors were never popular, and in Israel they had the particular problem of being considered spiritually unclean. They handled money bearing the Emperor’s inscription, therefore, they were not allowed to observe any of the religious holidays.
Zacchaeus’ story was one of over compensation. He was just a step behind others. He couldn’t quite reach what many found easy to grasp. Maybe that is why, when he had the opportunity, he took the superintendent of taxes job for the Roman government occupying his country.
“I will show them, I will become the most powerful man in our city.” So he made his pact with the Romans, which allowed him to extract extra money for himself, and he rode high and mighty over his fellow citizens.
But God had another plan for Zacchaeus. When Jesus looked him full in the face with acceptance, something passed between them that changed his life. All the old hurts and humiliation faded.
All the compensatory achievements – the big job, the social prominence, the great house, the financial security – became insignificant. Jesus was the difference maker in his life.
Zacchaeus didn’t need his props any more. He didn’t need to live in a big house where he could look down on everybody else. He didn’t need anything to lift him above the crowd. He had met Jesus and there was something beautiful about Zacchaeus that day.
You don’t have to be attractive by Hollywood standards in order to be beautiful. Your nose and eyes don’t have to match your face, your teeth don’t have to be straight, and your body doesn’t have to look great in a bathing suit.
You only have to be a conduit of God’s love in the world, that’s all. And when you are, you’re beautiful.
I hope you’ve had that experience too – coming face-to-face with Jesus and feeling all the old hurts and animosities simply drain away – that you could see yourself through Jesus’ eyes.
Can you imagine what it would do for you? You wouldn’t look in the mirror anymore wishing you were somebody else. You wouldn’t scheme or work anymore to get ahead of everybody else to make them think you’re really somebody.
You could relax knowing your have been accepted by the one who created you. You might find you could do your work better and get along with your friends more easily because you wouldn’t be tormented by trying to get ahead of everyone. You would want to celebrate life, God, yourself and those around you all at the same time. Can you imagine it?
Jesus, thank you for accepting me and helping me see I have beauty and wonder. I celebrate you, my life and others. I desire to be a conduit of God’s love in the world.