Got a Hole In Your Soul?

It came up in a discussion about parables. Jesus often used parables in His teaching and His disciples asked him why He used stories to teach spiritual truth when His audience often didn’t get the point of the illustration. Many times Jesus would have to explain to His disciples, in private, the meaning of the parable. It’s a question that others have asked since those years when the Lord walked and talked among the people of Israel. Many commentators express the opinion that the use of a story to illustrate a truth was meant to accomplish several things, one of which was to weed out those who were serious seekers of truth from those who were merely curious. In other words, if you really want to know what the story is all about, you’ll make an effort to find out!

In Luke 19:1-10 we meet a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus. Tax collectors were generally considered to be pretty near to the scum of the earth in ancient Palestine. They worked for the much hated Roman establishment and grew their own personal wealth through cheating their customers. Zaachaeus, by his own confession, was one of those.

We don’t know how it was that this man become aware of Jesus and His teaching. We don’t know if he ever heard one of the many parables that the Lord used to illustrate truth. But we do know that Zaachaeus wanted to know more. There was a thirst, a hunger, a hole in his soul that drove him to find the Lord, to hear more.

At the height of His popularity, Jesus was always surrounded by huge crowds. To get a front row position would have been difficult. The crowd would make way for the group of scribes or Pharisees. How would they dare not to! But no one would make way for a tax collector—more likely to trample him in the process. There was no way Zaachaeus could stand at the back of the crowd and see or hear anything. The Scriptures say he was “a short man” (Luke 19:3).

So this chief tax collector and wealthy man ran ahead and climbed a tree. From that vantage point he hoped to see this man that everyone was talking about. The effort—not to mention the embarrassment—tells us a lot about the depth of the hole in his soul that perhaps the tax collector was not entirely aware of.

God never ignores the cry of an empty soul.

Jesus not only walked under the tree; He stopped and called the tax collector down from his hiding place. “I must stay at your house today” (19:5).

Of course Jesus “must” go to Zaachaeus’s home. There was a hole in the man’s soul that needed to be dealt with.

Later, as Zaachaeus proved his repentance by making right all the wrongs he had committed against others, Jesus is quoted as saying: “Today, salvation has come to this house…For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Observers complained that Jesus was hanging around “sinners,” obviously forgetting that to hang around anyone, including them, would qualify for that. This was not unusual. In Matthew 11:18, 19, Jesus remarks after a similar complaint: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘But wisdom is proved right by her actions.'”  Jesus went to whoever was burdened by their sin, whoever felt the emptiness of their souls and wanted to be filled, whoever was thirsty for God. Whoever came seeking forgiveness and restoration, always found what he was looking for.

A little later in the passage in Matthew 11, Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Zaachaeus discovered the truth of that statement. If you have a hole in your soul, you can discover it too—and you won’t even have to climb a tree! Just ask Jesus.

Comments

  1. Thank you, Lynda! Great message. I was stopped in reading by Matthew 11:18,19 just a couple of weeks ago. "Wisdom is proved right by her actions," made me stop and ponder a good long time.

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