Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man
Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man, or was he?
While we may think that Zacchaeus was a small man, in reality, he was probably a much larger man. The key comes in how one views Luke 19:3. It states:
“He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because of the crowd, since he was a short man.” (Luke 19:3, CSB)
The verse before describes Zacchaeus:
“There was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.” (Luke 19:2, CSB)
There is no description of the shape and size of Zacchaeus.
When you look at the following verse, it seems that Zacchaeus is the one who is short:
“So running ahead, he climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus, since he was about to pass that way.” (Luke 19:4, CSB)
Zacchaeus is the short man who cannot see Jesus, so he runs up to the tree to see Jesus above the crowd. But is that really the case? Fat Pastor makes an interesting point about this passage:
Zach climbed in the tree, so everything thinks he’s short, but read that sentence again without assuming that Jesus is the tall hero with long flowing brown hair and perfect complexion. “He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd.” If a short man was walking in the midst of a crowd, he would be hard to see. In other words, climbing a tree would be helpful to see over the crowd whether Zach was the short one or Jesus was the short one.
The point of the passage is not just about a short man trying to see Jesus. The point was that perspective changes the view of the text. If Zacchaeus is the tall rich person, and Jesus is the short person, then this turns the story on its head.