By all accounts in the Bible . . . and even within various interpretations of the story, Zacharias was considered to be a kind of scoundrel. He was a tax collector and back then, tax collectors had a reputation of being unfair, of sort of picking and choosing who he would collect from, and even how much he might collect from them. I’m not sure if, back then, they kept records or if they did, what kind of records, or even how accurate the records were.
Zacharias was a little guy. I kind of picture him about my height, probably shorter. I say that because as the story goes, he had to climb a tree in order to see what all the fuss was about. There was a crowd around this Preacher, this Prophet, and Zacharias couldn’t see. As the Prophet came closer, He looked up and saw Zacharias and said, “Zacharias, come down from that tree. I will be staying at your house tonight.”
Wow! Talk about controversy. I imagine the crowd murmuring, complaining, and at the least, questioning as to why this Prophet, this Holy Man, might want to be near this scoundrel, this heathen, this thug.
So in his own defense, Zacharias defends himself, explaining to everyone who would listen- and I imagine not to many were interested in listening to him- what sorts of things he might have done right, what he tried to do, owning up to mistakes he might have made in the past, but indicating a willingness to atone for them. A willingness to do better, to make things right.
But what was remarkable, at least to me, was that this Holy Man, this Prophet, had decided to spend a night with him before Zacharias defended himself, before he even uttered a word. It seems that this Holy Man, this Prophet, knew something that the crowd didn’t know. This Holy Man, this Prophet, knew something that Zacharias didn’t even know about himself.
That deep down, at his core, Zacharias was A Really Good Man.
Springsteen has a lyric in his song, Human Touch that goes like this: “. . . Yeah, I know I ain't nobody's bargain; But, hell, a little touch up; And a little paint . . .”
One of my favorite songs and one of my favorite lines. “Yeah, I know I ain’t nobody’s bargain; but, hell, a little touch up; And a little paint . . .”
Kind of describes each of us, doesn’t it?
Zacharias. You. Me. Certainly, me. Absolutely, me.
But give us a chance, an opportunity . . . give us someone who might look beyond what we’ve might have done to see what we might do . . .
And, there’s something endearing about this short scoundrel who had to climb a tree in order to see. Seems to me there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. Having to rise above a crowd. Having Someone look up in order to see him. Not down, mind you, but up. And, for Zacharias to see clearly, to see what the fuss was all about, he had to rise above the crowd. He had to lift himself up in order to see.
So . . .
Seems to me that we have two Really Good Men in this story.
On one hand, a Prophet, a Holy Man, who was able to look beyond the crowd, who was able to look beyond the reputation, the clothes, the present day actions, to see a Good Man’s heart, A Good Man’s soul. To understand that just because someone trashes your reputation, that just because two or three might disagree and spread gossip and innuendo, it just might not be so. That there can be A Really Good Man right in front of you, standing there in plain sight. That perhaps, there can be A Really Good Man up in a tree where you and he and she can see each other clearly and notice and understand and believe what others cannot see or notice or understand or believe. Yes, Like Zacharias, you and I . . . we, each of us . . . are A Really Good Man. A Really Good Man. We just might need “a touch up and, hell, a little paint.” Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!