[Jesus said], “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Luke 19:5
Zach was a lonely guy. When he walked down the city streets, he could feel the hostile glares. But then his life took a turn. Clement of Alexandria, one of the church fathers, says that Zach became a very prominent Christian leader and a pastor of the church in Caesarea. Yes, we’re talking about Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:1–10).
What prompted him to climb the tree? Tax collectors were perceived as traitors because they heavily taxed their own people to serve the Roman Empire. Yet Jesus had a reputation for accepting them. Zacchaeus might have wondered if Jesus would accept him too. Being short in stature, however, he couldn’t see over the crowd (v. 3). Perhaps he climbed a tree to seek Him out.
And Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus too. When Christ reached the tree where he was perched, He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). Jesus considered it absolutely necessary that He be a guest in this outcast’s home. Imagine that! The Savior of the world wanting to spend time with a social reject.
Whether it’s our hearts, relationships, or lives that need mending, like Zacchaeus we can have hope. Jesus will never reject us when we turn to Him. He can restore what’s been lost and broken and give our lives new meaning and purpose.
What relationships in your life can Jesus help restore? What will it mean for you to be restored by Him?
Jesus, thank You for seeking me when I was lost in sin and for redeeming my messed-up life.
Tax collectors had a reputation for extorting money from others. Their position would make it easy for them to imprison others with false accusations, so people had no choice but to cooperate. Some would even initiate bribes with tax collectors in hopes of preventing higher fees.
It’s likely that the wealthy Zacchaeus was guilty of such behavior, something he seems to tacitly acknowledge in Luke 19:8 (“if I have cheated anybody”). But Jesus’ willingness to be Zacchaeus’ guest prompted a response of repentance in Zacchaeus, who promises to give half of his possessions to the poor and make four-fold restitution for anyone defrauded by him. Paying “four times the amount” (v. 8) is likely an allusion to Old Testament law regarding retribution (see Exodus 22). Zacchaeus’ words show he recognizes his behavior as theft requiring additional compensation.
To learn more about the gospel of Luke, visit ChristianUniversity.org/NT219.