Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was rich. He could not see Jesus through the crowd because he was short in stature. So he climbed a sycamore tree. When Jesus came by, he looked up and said, “Come down, Zacchaeus. I must stay at your house today.” – Luke 19:2-5
This world can be a hassle for people who are above, and below, average in stature.
In addition to the struggle to literally fit in, at least once a week I get asked “How tall are you?” by people who think they are offering a compliment because no way would that question ever make a tall person even more self-conscious. My standard answer: I’m 5’17”.
I doubt those who are below average in height, like the tax collector Zacchaeus, are questioned about their total elevation, unless it’s Jesus seeing Zacchaeus in a tree. Jesus both lowers the elevated Zacchaeus—“Come down!”—and then lifts him up—“I must stay at your house today.”
That’s how the gospel works. The high are humbled and the lowly are lifted. In the words of the prophet, “every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain will be brought low” (Isaiah 40:4) so all stand on the same level. It sounds like bad news for the lofty and privileged, but the truth is, they are saved from their soaring egos by being grounded.
For humans, this has little do with actual height. We all know shorter people who are power brokers and taller people who are wallflowers. For everyone, there are times when we need to be knocked off our high horse (or tree branch), and there are times we are circling the drain and need to be lifted up.
Leveling God, bring me low when I climb too high and lift me up when I sink too low.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.