If you grew up in or around church, you may have heard the story of Zacchaeus, a man of limited height, from a profession that was much-despised in his day, who wanted to see Jesus. In the end, he used some “strategic terrain advantage” to do so. Not only did Zacchaeus see Jesus, but Jesus stopped, talked with him, and was welcomed into Zacchaeus’s home. You can read the whole story at Luke 19:1-10. (It’s not a long narrative, but there are a lot of important implications within it.)
By itself, this is a part of Jesus’ ministry that’s easy to share with kids, and it reminds us all that Jesus cares about us, even if we’re not tall or popular. However, if we zoom out a little bit, we find that Zacchaeus was not alone in wanting to see Jesus. Consider these other examples:
Herod the tetrarch, a secular ruler in Jesus’ day, was curious (and maybe a little mixed up between John the Baptist and Jesus).
Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him.
Luke 9:9 NASB
Philip (later an apostle) thought that meeting the promised Messiah was a big enough deal to go and tell a friend (who didn’t actually believe Philip at first).
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
John 1:44-46 NASB
Even some of a different people group from Jesus (referred to as “Greeks” by the Jewish community in that day) wanted to meet Him:
Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
John 12:20-21 NASB
However, Jesus returned to Heaven centuries ago, so we don’t get to see Him in person. Still, characteristics of what Jesus modeled during His stay on earth can be found in his followers, today.
Of course, His followers aren’t perfect (that’s a fundamental principle of Christianity, after all – followers of Jesus admit that they aren’t good enough on their own, and can’t atone for their sins outside of His sacrifice). However, from those who seek to follow Jesus’ example, with the help of the Holy Spirit, there is an opportunity for us to get a glimpse of the character attributes (see Galatians 5:22-23) that Jesus modeled and taught.
In return, for those who follow Jesus, we have an opportunity to show behaviors and examples of what Jesus taught to others. This is a tall order, but we get help from the Holy Spirit, if we choose to yield to His guidance. After all, we – like John the Baptist in the passage below – should be about making Jesus greater and our own [fallen, selfish, prideful] selves lesser:
He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:30 NASB
What better opportunity can we hope for but to met Jesus, and to help other people meet Him, as well? It would certainly appear that many want to – whether they say this in so many words, or not.
For more reading about Jesus, see also: