April 27, 2022
“And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’” Luke 19:6-8
The tax collector Zacchaeus embodies why Jesus came into this world. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, this meant that he oversaw a large tax district and therefore had other tax collectors working for him. Zacchaeus was in Jericho, which was a large and prosperous commercial center, so it is a certainty that Zacchaeus was as very wealthy man. As Jesus was coming through Jericho that day Zacchaeus was part of the crowd that lined the street as Jesus passed through. They had no doubt heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, since Bethany was only 15 miles away. This, combined with Jesus’ fame as a healer and teacher, stirred up the entire city when word spread that Jesus was coming through. Zacchaeus was so desperate to see Christ that he climbed up a sycamore tree so he could better see him since he was as man of small stature. What needs to be understood here is that this was a very undignified thing for someone of Zacchaeus’ position and rank in the social strata to do.
Both the religious elite and the common people would have hated Zacchaeus. They did not understand, and in their blind pride they refused to see, what possible righteous purpose Jesus would have in visiting the home of such a notorious and hated sinner. But as it says in verse 10, “The Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.”
Not only does Zacchaeus joyfully receive Jesus into his home (v.6), but his willingness to make restitution was further proof of the sincerity of his conversion. This was the fruit, not the condition, of his salvation. The law required a penalty of one-fifth as restitution for any money which had been acquired fraudulently, so what Zacchaeus was doing was above and beyond what was required. Zacchaeus was judging his own crime severely, acknowledging that he was just as guilty as the lowest common thief. Since much of his wealth had most likely been acquired through fraud, this was a costly commitment he was making. On top of that, he gave half of what he owned to the poor. By the time Zacchaeus was done with this he most likely had very little left. But that didn’t matter to him, for he had found, through the grace of God, riches, spiritual riches that were incomprehensible and he did not therefore mind the loss of his material riches.
Let us have the mind of Zacchaeus and focus not on the things of this world, but focus on the incomprehensible spiritual riches we have in Christ.