Zacchaeus, Come Down!

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"Zacchaeus, come down!" by Ellen Mongan (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: By Tony Kemplen (2013), Flickr.com, all rights reserved.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.

Zacchaeus knew the words to that song before it was written. He had experienced firsthand God’s amazing grace. He was not blind, but too small to see until he climbed up to higher ground. His encounter with Jesus that day changed his life forever.

Here is a recap. When Zacchaeus heard about the man Jesus, it grew a curiosity that had to be quenched. He, a wealthy tax collector, wanted to know the answer to this question: “Jesus, who are you?” He decided to seek and find out for himself. When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus would be passing through his hometown of Jericho, he went to investigate.

When he hiked over to get a view, he found that the crowd was large and he was short, too short to see. Anxious to get a glimpse, little Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree where Jesus was in clear view. Small and insignificant as he may have felt, Zacchaeus might have gone unnoticed, but not to Jesus.

As Jesus passed by, Zacchaeus became His main focus. Jesus stopped and spoke to Zacchaeus as if was the only one there. “Zacchaeus, come down quickly!” Jesus said. As Zacchaeus obeyed, he was filled with joy. Jesus not only took note of this little man, but invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ home.

The next words Jesus spoke changed Zacchaeus’ life forever.

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

His encounter with Christ caused him to be repentant.

“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over,” Zacchaeus professed. (Luke 19:6, 8-10)

As I contemplated this scripture, I was struck by two words that Jesus spoke: “Come down!” In obeying these two words, Zacchaeus, an ordinary man, experienced a life-changing effect. He was so small that he had to climb a tree to see, but found that he was not insignificant at all.

Then I asked myself, these questions.

  1. Who else in the scriptures was asked to come down?
  2. What were they asked to come down from?
  3. What do I need to come down from this Lent?

Paul had to come down off his high horse and accept Jesus as the Messiah. Once he obeyed, he became one of the greatest disciples of all.

Peter had to come down from his inflated ego. Once he was humbled he was asked to lead the Church as our first pope. He was called to feed the sheep who were hungry for God.

Joseph went from the favored son to falsely accused prisoner. He had to give up, his reputation in exchange for God’s will for his life. When God freed him, he was restored to a place of honor and able to help those who had sold him to slavery: his jealous brothers.

Jonah had to come down from his own plan. Secretly, he thought his plan was better than God’s. His plan bought him a stay inside whale’s belly. It was then that he realized he was wrong. He came down from his rebellion and obeyed his God. His obedience brought mercy and grace to God’s chosen people.

Jesus the Savior of the world came down from the cross and rose from death to bring life to the world.

Jesus says to each one of us, “Come down!” What is God asking you to come down from? Each time we come face to face with our Holy God, our sinfulness is evident. We become well aware of who Jesus is and who we are. If we take the time to examine our conscience each night, or frequent the confessional, or sit quietly in in prayer, we can hear Jesus invite us to “Come down!”

In this Lenten season, take the time to be still and know that He is God. Wait patiently and let Him tell you what it is you need to come down off of. Is it a ministry that you have held onto way too long? Have you become so comfortable you are deaf to His voice in an area of your life? Are you are unable to hear him guiding you to a something new? Is it a longstanding friendship that is not bearing good fruit for your soul? You don’t want to hurt their feelings but their friendship is hindering your growth in virtue. Is it the television, radio, or social media that is filling your mind with worldly wisdom? Is it a habit that you cannot seem to break? Is it your job, hobby, or a friendship that has taken so much time that your family has suffered?  Maybe you have become selfish and are unable to see the needs of those you love. Is it a religious practice that instead of drawing you closer to God, you are just going through the motions? God can only fill you full of His grace as you empty yourself of sin.

Take the time this Lent to get close enough to Jesus that you are able to sit in His lap. Let Him speak to you. Let Him tell you what you must come down from. You must come down so that He can invite Himself into your home like He did Zacchaeus. Make room for Him in your heart! Come down onto your knees and humble yourself before Him. I promise you He will lift you up, not into a sycamore tree but into the palm of His hands.

You too will know the words of the song, “Amazing Grace,” if we but let Jesus into the parts of our heart that we once had closed off to Him. “Come down!” Come down far enough that you can look up to see Jesus clearly.  Empty yourself before Him and let Him fill you with His mercy and grace.

You will never feel small and insignificant any more. He calls you by name. You are His! Grace: Isn’t it amazing?


Copyright 2019 Ellen Mongan

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About Author

Ellen Mongan, a Catholic writer and speaker, has been married more than 40 years to Deacon Pat Mongan. They have 7 children and 12 grandchildren. Ellen is a host of WOW Radio Podcasts, a religious columnist for the Augusta Chronicle, and has spoken on both radio and television. She is the founder of Sisters in Christ, Little Pink Dress Ministry, and Women-Fests.

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