Here’s a question for you: who creeps you out more, accountants or midgets? If you answered “all of the above” you would be correct. You would also have had some serious beef with this one dude in the Bible named Zacchaeus or “Zach” as his friends called him. Well, actually they didn’t call him that cause he didn’t have any friends, but he always told himself that if he ever made a friend, he would say, “No, it’s cool. Just call me Zach.”
Anyway, this dude Zacchaeus lived in Jericho round about the time Jesus was doing his thing. The Bible doesn’t have a ton to say about him except that he worked for the IRS, he was loaded, and he was a “wee little man.” (Note: Not to be confused with Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna from Jackass although those two probably have a lot in common; like their in-seam measurement. Heyooohh!)
Scholars cannot determine if Zacchaeus dealt with his short man syndrome in the traditional ways (i.e. dating strippers, getting bicep tattoos, putting gigantic tires on his truck, etc), but they are fairly confident that being waist-high to Danny Devito sucked back then just as bad as it does now. Sure Zacchaeus could ride dogs around like they were small horses. And sure, he ordered from the kids menu well into his twenties. But there were also times when it was a real drag. Like when they wouldn’t let him on The Aerosmith Ride at Disney World, or when he went to see The Chronicles of Narnia in a theater that didn’t have stadium seating.
Or, for example, when the long-awaited Messiah came to town and Zacchaeus couldn’t see a friggin thing since the crowd in front of him contained normal-sized people and not Smurfs.
Normally, you’d think this Hebrew Hobbit would have just asked if he could squeeze to the front of the crowd, but that wasn’t going to fly here. The Jews hated Zacchaeus. This was partly because of the way he would always wear flip-flops in the wintertime and say, “Seriously, it just isn’t that cold to me” and partly because he had never seen Fight Club. But mostly, it was because he was a tax collector and had gotten rich by taking their money and giving it to the Romans. Whatever the reason, the Jews thought Zacchaeus was as useless as Jenna Jamison at an abstinence conference and they weren’t about to throw him any bones.
But Zacchaeus was a resourceful guy. He wanted to see Jesus and he wasn’t about to let a crowd of deli owners and loan officers get in his way. He saw the direction Jesus was heading and ran ahead of the mob as fast as his stubby leg-nubs would carry him. He scampered up a sycamore tree near the road and waited for Jesus to come by.
Sure enough, it wasn’t fifteen minutes later when Jesus came walking beneath the tree. He was hitting on all cylinders by then and was spitting some truth about “planks and specks” and “only begotten sons” and “rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s” and all that good stuff. Despite having lost feeling in his legs and having to pee pretty bad, Zacchaeus was eating it up. But then, right in the middle of a point about turning other cheeks, Jesus looked up into the tree and said, “Zacchaeus! My man! Get yourself down from there. I’m coming over to your place for chili dogs and cheese fries today.”
The paparazzi went nuts. Who was this carnie in the tree? How did Jesus know him? How would Jesus fit inside his house? Zacchaeus, for his part, was just as shocked as they were. All he had been hoping for was a pic of Jesus on his iPhone; best case scenario, maybe an autographed copy of Jesus’ book, The Old Testament, but a lunch date?! It was too good to be true.
The Jews, as you might imagine, were none too pleased with this arrangement. “What’s Jesus doing eating with that degenerate? Doesn’t he know Zacchaeus is as corrupt as an Iraqi election?”
Zacchaeus knew what they were saying about him and he figured that having Jesus over for corndogs and Cokes was as good an excuse as any to stop living like he was mayor of Chicago and to start walking the line.
“Starting today,” he said. “Imma give half my money to Darfur, and if anyone feels like I’ve done them dirty, you just lemme know and I’ll make it right. Scouts honor.”
Jesus heard this and he said to everyone in the house, “You see? This is what I’m talking about! This is why I came over today! To bring salvation to Zacchaeus and his family. This is what I do. I forgive sins. And in order for me to do that I have to hang out with sinners. Seriously, how are you guys not getting this?”
“Hey Jesus,” said Zacchaeus. “You can call me Zach if you want.”