Read Luke 19-20
Highlight: Luke 19:1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
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.”
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 the lost.”
In the social network of the time, Zacchaeus was pretty far down on the list. A publican.
Publicans were Jews who worked for Rome to collect taxes from other Jews (not unlike a neighbor who might work for the IRS). The difference being that Judea was an occupied country. Rome was the conqueror, the Jews were the conquered. On top of that, there was no oversight of the publicans (tax collectors) to charge the correct amount of tax. They could inflate the tax charges as they wanted as long as Rome got its portion. Therefore publicans were not only viewed as “traitors” working for Rome, they were also viewed as cheats, liars, and extortionists. They made their wealth from cheating their fellow Jews. “Zacchaeus was chief among the publicans and he was rich”. And there was nothing anyone could do about it.
So you can see why everyone thought Zacchaeus was lower than a snake’s belly. Everyone except Jesus. Why was that?
The Scriptures make it clear that there are 2 kingdoms, opposite each other. The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. The wealth and worth of each one is counted by decidedly different measures. One in money, wealth, and power; the other in humility, kindness, and service. Zacchaeus had all the world had to offer, but he was still lacking. He wanted something more, something better. From all the accounts and reports and talk about town, he knew that this Jesus person had something better to offer. So Zacchaeus sought Jesus out. He wanted to see who He was. When he couldn’t see by ordinary means, Zacchaeus took extraordinary measures, he wasn’t going to be dissuaded. Jesus noticed that and Zacchaeus immediately responded and received Jesus joyfully. While all the others only saw Zacchaeus for his outward characteristics, scoffing at him and accusing him, Jesus saw him as someone who needed and was worthy of salvation, a son of Abraham, regardless of what the world knew him as.
Between the worldly and Godly kingdoms is a door. John 10:9 and 10:7 tells us Jesus is that door “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…” But it requires entering in through the door and the key to that entrance is what Zacchaeus realized. Repentance.
“And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”
Jesus recognized his repentant heart and declared that Salvation had come to Zacchaeus. Worldly stature (or lack thereof) makes no difference to Jesus for Zacchaeus, for you, or for me.
A true and sincere desire to look, know, and want something that Jesus has, to receive Him joyfully when He responds, and unlock the door with words and deeds of repentance. This is what made Zacchaeus stand out from the crowd and have that wonderful encounter with the Lord.
Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
That is exactly what Jesus did back in Jericho for Zacchaeus and that is exactly what He continues to do for us today.
God of mercy, Zacchaeus wasn’t well regarded by his neighbors because he was a tax collector, but Jesus came to his house anyway. I don’t deserve Jesus, because I have done wrong things too. Let me seek to right whatever wrongs I have done and out of the salvation I have been given. Help me seek and serve today, like Zacchaeus, to give you honor in Christ. Amen.