Key Verse: 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
All of Zacchaeus’ life he’d been laughed at and rejected. We can imagine through his childhood that he was made fun of for being short. It must have been a great joy when he became a tax collector. He could finally pay his peers back for all those bad comments and jokes.
Tax collector worked for the Roman government. Most Jews considered them to be traitors. Their job was to take money from their own people to fund the enemy. The Romans gave the job to locals to collect a certain amount each quota. Anything they made over this about, they were free to keep for themselves. Consequently, extortion was commonplace as the tax collector took all they could from the poor and the rich to fund the oppressor and their own lifestyle.
In becoming a tax collector, Zacchaeus improved his life. People may still not of liked him, and still speak about him behind his back, but now he was in control. Then one day, Jesus came to his town. Zacchaeus saw the crowd had already gathered, but he didn’t want to miss the chance to meet Jesus. Perhaps Zacchaeus heard how Jesus had performed miracles? How Jesus fed large crowds of people? How he’d touched the untouchables and ate with sinners? We don’t really know, but we can see he was desperate to see Jesus.
Zacchaeus picked up his gown and ran to a tree. This was such a shameful thing for a middle-eastern man to do. The people no doubt looked on in disbelief. They would have laughed and mocked him from a distance, but he didn’t care. I wonder if we show the same determination in coming to Jesus?
Zacchaeus was a little man, so like children, he could have pushed himself through the crowd and to the front, but rather he climbs a tree. Maybe he was scared that some Zealot would stab him in the crowd, but more likely, he was wanted to meet Jesus but was ashamed.
Luke 19:5 says, “When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus’ name means “pure one.” The last name you would expect for a corrupt government official. Zacchaeus was anything but pure. Jesus, calling Zacchaeus by name, was saying, “Pure one, I’m coming to your house today.” Jesus was affirming what he saw in Zacchaeus, not what he was. It not that God doesn’t see our sin, it is offensive to Him, but He recognises the transforming power of grace made available to us through Christ.
Maybe you feel afraid to draw near to Jesus because of the things you’ve done. Perhaps you are ashamed or even fearful of his judgement. God will one day judge the world for its sin, but Jesus also said in John 6:27 “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” Today is a day of grace and Jesus is inviting us to come to Him.
Can you imagine what Zacchaeus must have thought when Jesus called his name? He knows me! Wait, how does he know me? Does he know what I’ve done? Doesn’t he know that everyone hates me? Jesus knows everything about us, but calls us anyway. Zacchaeus rushed down and went home with Jesus. Zacchaeus life was changed. In Luke 19:9 “Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.”
If your life is filled with rejection and you feel unable to come to Jesus, remember Zacchaeus. Salvation can also come to your house this day if only you would welcome Jesus.