Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Are You Scared of Loving Zacchaeus?
Are You Scared of Loving Zacchaeus?
by Laura MacCorkle
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Luke 19:5, NIV
I’m scared of some things—and some people—but I’m not too scared about spending time with those who don’t know Jesus. Never have been.
In fact, I enjoy people who are vastly different than me. I must say, though, that I am nowhere even close to the greatest friend-who-knew-no-stranger-of-all-time: Jesus. And so I admire his ability to walk toward those who might scare you and me … those who we might walk away from today.
Zacchaeus was one such character. He really was a despicable little man. As I’m sure you know, tax collectors in Bible times were not the sort of person you invited over for a potluck to your home on an early spring evening. No, they were viewed as the lowest of the low. The pond scum of society. The ones you wouldn’t even let in your front door.
Amazingly, though, Jesus didn’t adjust his course when he was walking through Jericho one fine day. With his eye on the tax collector, Jesus walked right to where Zacchaeus was perched in a sycamore tree. Because he was small in stature, Zacchaeus had climbed up this tree so that he could see who Jesus was when he passed by in the crowd of people. He had heard about him, and now he wanted to see for himself.
Had he heard how he’d performed miracles? How he’d attracted and fed large crowds of people? How he’d touched the untouchables and healed those with leprosy? How he’d stood up to the religious establishment and called them on their legalistic teachings?
Who knows for sure. But whatever he had heard, Zacchaeus wanted to see this man who defied everyone’s expectations of what the Messiah would be.
“Zacchaeus,” Jesus said as he addressed him by name. “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
Can you imagine what Zacchaeus must have thought? He knows me! Wait, HOW does he know me? And why is he coming to spend time with me? Doesn’t he know that everyone despises me because I take all of their money? Why would he want to spend time with ME?
But whatever Zaccheus may have thought didn’t stop him from scrambling down the tree and welcoming Jesus “gladly.” He was smitten with the love of the Savior. And he knew that this was the Christ.
“Look, Lord!” Zacchaeus said to him. “Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
How amazing is that? Jesus didn’t shy away from someone who the rest of society was shunning. He also didn’t get up in Zacchaeus’ face, make him feel like dirt and then strike him down with the Law in his initial effort to love him. No, he just said, “Hey, I see you and I’m going to spend some time with you. Come on, let’s go!”
It’s the “great commission” in action. “Go ye into all the world.” Even to the parts of town that you usually avoid. Even to the societal groups that offend you. Even to the family member who has chosen to live a different lifestyle. He, she, they … any of these people can represent Zacchaeus in your life.
But don’t walk away from them. Walk toward them. And extend an invitation for a better way of living and the hope of a glorious eternity. Just like Jesus did for you.
*By requesting this gift, you are signing up for our newsletter and will receive occasional emails. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time.
You may remember that most Jews despised tax collectors in Jesus’ time. Not only did they work for the occupying foreign government, Rome, but they also made themselves very rich by overcharging their own countrymen. Zacchaeus was no different than any other tax collector of his day: selfish, greedy and dishonest.
However, he heard that Jesus was visiting his town of Jericho, and people were mobbing this well-known teacher and miracle worker as He walked through. Being short, Zacchaeus climbed a tree down the street so that when Jesus passed by, he could catch a glimpse of Him.
But God had more planned for Zacchaeus than just a glimpse of Jesus. He wanted Zacchaeus to know Jesus personally. And was Zacchaeus ever shocked when Jesus stopped, looked up at him, called his name and told him that He must be a guest at his house that day. Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and excitedly led Jesus to his house.
But finding himself in Jesus’ loving and holy presence, Zacchaeus became even more conscious of his own sinfulness, and he realized how uncomfortable he would be with pure and holy Jesus as his guest. What would he do? Unlike most wealthy people whose god is money, Zacchaeus decided to change, making Jesus his Lord. Because money would no longer be his god, he immediately changed his attitude and actions concerning it.
This story illustrates a very important point about salvation. Jesus said that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’s home that day after Zacchaeus repented. That is, Zacchaeus admitted his guilt and changed his ways. Beyond even that, he promised to make restitution to those he’d wronged.
Repentance is an essential part of salvation. In fact, there is no true salvation apart from repentance. Too many people think they’re saved because they’ve prayed a prayer for salvation, but they’ve never truly repented, but have continued living their same old sinful lives. How do you think Jesus would have responded if Zacchaeus had said, “Jesus, I accept you as my Lord and Savior. However, I’m going to continue being greedy and dishonest”?
Climb a Tree!
By: Andy Taylor, seedsofthekingdom.org
If anyone had a dramatic encounter with Jesus in the Gospels it was Zacchaeus. His reputation went before him as someone who gained great wealth at everyone else’s expense. One day, however, Jesus passed through his home town of Jericho and to ensure he had a good view of the procession, he climbed a tree so that he could see above the gathering crowds. What happened next was a shock to everyone – especially Zacchaeus.
Jesus stopped in His tracks, looked up into the tree, called Zacchaeus by name and told him to come down quickly because He was going to be a guest in his house for the day. Zacchaeus was amazed and excited and hurried down while everyone else talked about how disgraceful it was that Jesus was mixing with sinners. During this encounter with Jesus, however, Zacchaeus made a dramatic life-change. He committed to give away half of his fortune to the poor and to repay those he’d cheated four times what they had paid. It was definitely a day of surprises!
The sequence of this special day was simply desperation, love and surrender. Firstly, Zacchaeus was desperate to see Jesus – desperate enough to climb a tree. Next, he was confronted with the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus. The truth was that Zacchaeus was not popular. He was overlooked – not just because of his physical size, but because of who he was. But Jesus picked him out and this had such an impact on him that he surrendered to His Lord.
Money, which used to be his god, had become nothing in comparison to the treasure that he found that day. This is what Jesus is referring to in the verses above – that salvation had come to Zacchaeus that day because of his surrender.
Maybe today you need to ‘climb a tree’, in desperation, to meet with Jesus. Be sure that He will pick you out and show you unbelievable love and acceptance which will lead you further down the road of full surrender to your Lord.