TEXT: LUKE 19:1-10
Over the years, the Bible presents man as the sufferer of pains caused by the fall of Adam. And reveals a God who is ever willing to reconcile his people back to himself, whenever they are willing to come back and repent of their sins.
Zacchaeus is an example of a man who realized his sinful actions and desired to seek God. The account of Zacchaeus is a demonstration of God’s love reaching out to sinners as he steps to reconcile Zacchaeus to himself.
If Jesus would stoop to have mercy on someone like Zacchaeus; what can we do?
SEEKING TO SEE JESUS
A few days, prior to his crucifixion, towards the end of Jesus journey to Jerusalem, Zacchaeus had an encounter with Jesus.
Luke 19 is one of the familiar stories in the Gospels. It also shows God’s willingness to save even those whom others consider the worst of sinners.
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Zacchaeus’ visible response to Jesus is an excellent example of the result of genuine conversion. Zacchaeus shows us that an encounter with Jesus does not stop at the emotions; it results in a transformed life.
Jericho was located in a strategic position between Judea and Perea trade route. The taxes collected on material goods that passed through Jericho were an important source of revenue for the Roman government.
As “Chief among the Publicans.” Zacchaeus occupied an important position with the Roman Empire. It is likely he had other tax collectors who worked under him.
Zacchaeus being a Jew and a tax collector was especially hated by his own people and he was considered a traitor. For the people hated all tax collectors.
The job of tax collector usually went to the highest bidder. Also, these agents of Roman paid the government its taxes in advance. These tax agents, in turn, would then charge the people any amount they wanted, to recover their tax payment to Rome plus any other expenses they incurred. This arrangement provided opportunities for abuse and dishonesty.
Zacchaeus made a large sum of money from collecting taxes and that equally made him wealthy (verse 2). To be wealthy is not sin, but the manner by which the wealth is acquired either through illegitimate or honest means.
But in the case of Zacchaeus, he evidently abused his position as tax collector by overtaxing the people.
ZACCHAEUS A DETERMINED SEEKER (LUKE 19:3,4)
By this time in Jesus’ ministry, he had attracted large crowds wherever he went. He could not get away from them; they pursued him constantly. Imagine the problem this caused as Jesus passed through the narrow streets of Jericho.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but because he was shorter than most people in the crowd, he was frustrated by this inability to see Him. So he climbed a Sycamore tree along the path Jesus would pass and waited. What an undignified act for someone as important as Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus though wanted to see Jesus “who he was” literally “who he is” Luke 19:3.
Zacchaeus had heard stories about Jesus’ miracles. Perhaps Zacchaeus may have wanted to see whether Jesus might be the Messiah. But more than this, maybe Zacchaeus wanted to know Jesus. So went the extra mile to catch a glimpse of Jesus.
JESUS SEEKS SINNERS
Jesus knows every person’s need. In a crowd, many people’s feelings border on claustrophobia; their senses focus on themselves only. But Jesus, in the largeness of this crowd, he was aware of a quiet man in a tree overhead.
This tells that Jesus knows everyone’s need and he cares, listens to each of us.
READ ALSO: THE IMPORTANCE OF FORGIVENESS
When Jesus got to the spot, he made a very unusual request. Jesus asked Zacchaeus to come down immediately for “I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:5).
Certainly, Jesus would have other places to spend the night.
The word “must” indicates Jesus’ mission on earth.
Jesus recognized Zacchaeus’ readiness to accept him and the salvation he offered made him stay with Zacchaeus.
ZACCHAEUS RESPONSE TO JESUS
Zacchaeus responded immediately and made haste to come down (verse 6).
Zacchaeus responded openly with joy and received Jesus, with nothing held back.
However, some critical onlookers, presumably the Pharisees and their followers; throughout Jesus Ministry, the Pharisees monitored Jesus to find fault with him. These onlookers judged Jesus, they started murmuring behind his back.
It is important to note that, not everyone will be happy when we surrounded our sinful lives and respond to follow Jesus.
Zacchaeus did not allow himself to be distracted by the criticism of the onlookers nor Jesus did.
He was focused and determined to establish a relationship with Jesus
JESUS SAVES SINNERS
On his dramatic encounter with Jesus, that changed his life (Luke 19:8). Zacchaeus stood and declared two promises: a promise of charity and a promise of restitution.
First, he declared he would give half of all he owned to the poor. This decision to act charitably was not based on any former wrongdoing, but simply a response to Jesus love for him. The second promise was to make fourfold restitution to those he had extorted anything, a penalty prescribed by law for repayment of the theft of a sheep (Exodus 22:1). But more than was required for other instances of wrongdoing (Leviticus 6:5; Numbers 5:6,7).
When we come in contact with Jesus, our lives will never remain the same.
Jesus approved of Zacchaeus’ action (verse 9). He declared that Zacchaeus (and his house) were saved. Since Jesus reacted according to Zacchaeus declaration, many might think Zacchaeus was saved because of his good works. But Jesus prevented any misinterpretation. Zacchaeus was saved because he was a “son of Abraham”
While Zacchaeus had always been a son of Abraham after the flesh; salvation came “this day” because, like Abraham, he was saved by faith. His good works proved he really had been changed by his faith.
In. verse 10, Luke proclaimed Jesus Messianic authority by using the title “son of man.”
A sinner seeking Jesus and Jesus seeking a sinner.
Jesus broke the power of sin in the life of Zacchaeus by forgiving him.
Jesus came into this world with the mission to seek and save sinners like Zacchaeus, you and me and to change our lives.