“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”

Zaccheus was a wealthy tax collector who probably lived in what we would consider a “gated community.” People hated him and I’m sure he was often filled with anxiety, perhaps even for his own life.

So he put up some walls between him and his own people.

The Romans who he worked for also put up walls between Zacchaeus and themselves. For while he was a shrewd Jew, he was not one of them.

Zacchaeus may never have had a houseguest. May never have even had a visitor. Perhaps his own family had disowned him? Who knows? But we do know that he was wealthy.

And that wealth had created an even deeper wall, a wall that made it difficult for him to see what he had become and maybe even how others saw him. Maybe he even was such a recluse that people didn’t even notice him?

And maybe climbing a tree was his only hope to get someone to notice him. Maybe it was an act of desperation? Maybe this Jesus would notice him?

Aren’t we all a bit like that? Don’t we all wish to be noticed? To be loved even?

But in that longing, don’t we put up some walls–because there are parts of ourselves that we don’t want others to see either.

We all have a bit of the tax collector, the wretched one, inside us don’t we?

Do we dare head for “the tree” to take stock of who we are, to stand naked before God’s tree and let Jesus see us for who we really are and to simply listen to those same words that Jesus speaks to the wretched tax collector:

“Come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”

But when we head for that tree we often face fear, anxiety, helplessness. We find that we think ourselves unworthy of this love that God speaks of. We all need a savior but we build the walls around us in fear of seeing ourselves in a place where we can’t hide the bad parts of who we are.

I know I have done this many times in my own life. I smother people because I think they won’t like me if I don’t give everything to them. I hide from people because I don’t think I’m worthy of their time. I dampen my achievements and highlight my faults. It’s just easier to stay in my gated community–where nobody can hurt me and nobody has to notice who I really am, warts and all.

But like that day of Pentecost, despite the walls, God comes in and makes a way out of no way.

God comes and tells me that he is inviting himself into my heart. That despite my supposed wretchedness, God wants to love me anyway.

And God wants to love you too. And will knock down those walls that you build as well.

Who do you try to keep out of your well walled heart? A wife? A mother? A hated friend? A competitor? The homeless? The unborn?

Who are you so afraid to let see you that you lack the courage of Zacchaeus who climbed the tree to hope beyond hope that Jesus could find something redeemable in him?

We are all redeemable despite our sin. And even when we don’t think so, God climbs the walls, maybe even knocks them over and calls to us.

“Come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”