"[Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.' So he hurried, came down, and received him joyfully. And when [the crowd] saw it, they all grumbled, 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.' And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.' And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'" - Luke 19:1-10
What a beautiful story. In those days, Jewish tax collectors were the worst sinners of all because they collected taxes from Jews to give to Rome. They were traitors to their own people. They also made people pay more tax than what was lawful. Zacchaeus would have been the worst, because he was a chief tax collector. I wonder if Matthew, who had been a tax collector in Capernaum, knew Zacchaeus? Probably.
I love the unpredictability of Jesus. He does things differently. He goes against the grain to show the kind of kingdom life he wants. "Get used to different." This scene will make a great episode in The Chosen.
Zacchaeus's response is amazing. He is so ready for a huge change of life. He is ready to make amends to everyone he has defrauded. His actions reflect his new faith and a changed heart.
I am so thankful Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. We were lost, but now we are found. Jesus seeks every man and woman, boy and girl. He cares about each one of us as individuals. We really do matter to God. We are important, and God has created us for a purpose.
Father, thank you for the story of Zacchaeus. Jesus would in a few days go to the cross. But he stopped and spent time with this hated tax collector. Are there any Zacchaeus's in my life that I need to stop and spend time with? Help us to be more like Jesus--to seek and to save the lost. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman