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Reaching Jesus

By  Marlene Houk

Burke CountyMarlene Houk Burke County

 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.” Luke 19:2-3

While wrapping my granddaughter’s birthday gift, I realized some curling ribbon would add a festive flair. Glancing around, I spied the cluster of helium balloons tied to the kitchen chair from an earlier celebration. White ribbon dangled in long curls, offering a nifty solution to my dilemma.

As I taped shiny coiled strands snipped from the balloons to the pink sequined ribbon, a soft shuffling noise sounded behind me. Curious, I looked around for the source within the quiet breakfast nook.  I followed the last swooshing whisper and looked high above, gaping as the last of the balloons nestled in our dining nook skylight, their short tails high above my head. I laughed and postponed their retrieval.

A few days later, my daughter tried to retrieve the balloons. Her short stature prevented her from reaching them with her hands. Thinking about a solution, she finally found a painting stick with an extension rod. With quick little strokes, she succeeded in pinning them against the sides of the skylight and shimmied them down the wall. Although the helium caused them to float skyward over and over, she managed to retrieve them one at a time without scratching the paint on the wall. Victory!

She rescued my balloons on Friday. On Sunday, one of our pastors described Zacchaeus in Luke chapter two as a short man. I thought of my daughter, too short to meet her goal of grabbing the balloons with her hands but, like the old saying: where there is a will, there is a way, she overcame. Likewise, Zacchaeus determined to see Jesus because he wanted to know more about the famous healer and teacher. What he lacked in height, he made up in determination. In his struggles that ended in feasting with Jesus, Zacchaeus shares with us how to enjoy Jesus’ in His role as the Bread of Life.

First Zacchaeus climbed to higher ground. As he scrambled up the tree, his dignity drifted away. Perhaps, a few children giggled to see a man of such importance forsake his façade of political correctness for a glimpse of the famous Rabbi. And for millennia since then, Zacchaeus has urged us to climb upward to see Jesus. An old gospel hymn, entitled “Higher Ground,” sings the message well:

The lyrics to the first stanza ask the Lord for something.

I’m pressing on the upward way,

New heights I’m gaining ev’ry day;

Still praying as I’m onward bound,

“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

(Oatman, Jr., “Higher Ground,” stanza 1, public domain)

May we, like Zacchaeus, climb higher and higher until we see Jesus clearly.

Second, Zacchaeus sought Jesus—a simple concept but quite important. He focused on Jesus, forsaking his tax collection. After his transforming talk with Jesus, he diverted his assets from selfish to selfless, becoming tall in faith.  Today, like the man of little stature in Luke, we seek Jesus by following His work and joyfully welcoming Him into our lives.

Third, Zacchaeus hurried to meet Jesus, eagerly fulfilling His command. The short man’s intense focus radiated in his every step as he turned toward Jesus. Like Zacchaeus, rather than bowing to our goals, perhaps we can hurry to Jesus and embrace His perspective for each task of a new day.

Although his story only fills ten verses, Zacchaeus’ message towers above my life as a reminder to seek Jesus with every fiber of my being.

As I carefully folded the now flat (but recovered) balloons, I reflected on my daughter’s humorous illustration of the gospel story of Zacchaeus. Whether rescuing balloons or reaching Jesus, we need Zacchaeus’ example of climbing ever upward in knowing Him, seeking Jesus daily, and hurrying towards Him.


Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at

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Blue Ridge Christian News covers Avery County, Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, and Madison County in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.