Holy God, thank you for making a way for sinners like me to come to you, to know what it is to be your child, to experience your loving faithfulness each day.
Read LUKE 19:1–10
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.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect on how you came to faith. How unexpected was that to your friends and family? Are there those known to you who seem to be impervious to the gospel that you can pray for?
The streets of Jericho are lined with people excited to see Jesus, though they’re disappointed that he is just passing through. Anyone too short to see Jesus would have been ushered to the front. But Zacchaeus can’t risk that. His job leading the local tax collectors means he’s detested locally. Too short to see from the back, he doesn’t dare go to the front. He fears the locals will close ranks against him or even assault him. Desperate to see Jesus without being seen, he runs ahead and climbs a tree outside Jericho (things Middle Eastern adults never do).1
Sycamore-fig trees offer good cover, but Zacchaeus is still spotted. It’s unclear whether Jesus is the first to spot him. Rather, I wonder if, when Jesus reaches the spot in verse 5, the crowd is enjoying abusing their chief tax collector caught humiliatingly in a tree! Their shouted abuse may have revealed Zacchaeus’ name to Jesus, rather than the Spirit. The situation is ugly. Zacchaeus is at real risk of assault. Jesus intervenes. Calling Zacchaeus by name, Jesus invites himself to stay at the house of the most despised man in the town (v. 5). Everyone is astonished, not least because you never invite yourself anywhere. Inviting yourself to that man’s house is unimaginable. Zacchaeus scrambles down hurriedly and welcomes Jesus as a guest (and protector) with joy (v. 6).
In placing Zacchaeus under his protection, Jesus makes himself the subject of angry muttering (v. 7). How can the Messiah refuse their hospitality, then go to be the guest of such a hated sinner? Zacchaeus understands that Jesus has taken a huge risk on his behalf. At the banquet Zacchaeus throws in Jesus’ honor, he responds by promising restitution and justice. As Jesus proclaims, today salvation has come to this house.
This story beloved of Sunday schools has a hard edge to it. Where might God be calling you to show similar courage on other people’s behalf?
Lord Jesus, show me where I can tangibly express my faith in you, inviting others to enjoy the riches I find in my relationship with you.
Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by kingstar