“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”. So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 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.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-9
Today is the second devotion in the Little Golden Book Series. This book was also one of my favorite bible stories, but as a child it was not because of the message so much as it was because of the song and actions. Do you remember the Sunday School song about Zacchaeus? (click the words in blue to see video).
Today I thought we could delve into the message more and learn how it is important to our lives today. The story of Zacchaeus should be one we study often because it is a story of salvation and what God does for Zaccaeus is what He can and does do for all of us.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
Jericho was a affluent area of town. A place of beauty and wealth. Living among the rich and famous is many people’s dream. To live a life a affluency and to never have to worry about having enough money for the things you want in life. The saying “He who dies with the most toy’s wins” is how many people live their lives. The town of Jericho may have been one of those places, where the rich and famous would reside.
Would you want to live in such a place? Have you ever struggled with your fleshly desires for “stuff”? If you looked into my attic, you would see that I have struggled with the desire for things too. You would see a pile of discarded home décor items that never filled my desire for beautiful things. Chasing after earthly beauty at Kirkland’s did not fill my need. However, the beauty of God’s love gives me a treasure in heaven and does not add to the clutter of the attic.
A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
The fact that Zacchaeus was rich made him an unlikely follower of Jesus. He would have been more inclined to chasing after the dreams of the rich and famous rather than ministering to the poor and needy. The tax collector, especially the chief tax collector, would be considered to be greedy, a liar and a sinner. He would most likely be hated by everyone in any community.
Who in our society now would you be likely to compare to the tax-collectors? Do you think it is easy for someone who is rich and famous to follow Jesus? Why or why not? Do you think that climbing to ladder to success in your career ever interferes with following Jesus?
He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
I love Zacchaeus determination in this scene. Although I don’t know what his motivation was to see Jesus, I can imagine that maybe Zacchaeus was feeling a desire to know and experience a deeper purpose in life. You know that sense of feeling like there must be more to life than what you are experiencing? Deep down, Zaccaeus wanted some answers.
Do you have a good sense of what God’s purpose for your life is? How far would you go to find Jesus and get some answers? I find that everyday brings about a new revelation of God’s purpose for my life and how He wants me to serve. Writing is a new passion that is also a ministry. But it took a lot of seeking, a lot of tree climbing before I met Jesus on the road to this passion. I missed the mark, showed up late and failed to deliver on many of the missions God set before me. What if Zacchaeus had not shown up to see Jesus that day, what would he have missed out on?
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately.
I love the fact that Jesus knew his name. It’s the little things that matter! I think that God knew Zacchaeus was waiting for him and He knew the state of his heart. God knows your name too and He is ready to call you down from your tree by name also!
So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
I can only imagine how happy Zacchaeus felt at being noticed, at being called out by name and being chosen to host the much sought after Lord! I get it, I love that kind of attention too. It makes me feel acknowledged and valued. We all need that, we all need to know that God has a purpose for us and that we are wanted in His life as much as we want God in our life.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Jesus has shocked the people of Jericho by inviting himself into the company of a sinner. And not just any sinner, but a tax-collector, someone known for greed, lies and deceit. But lucky for us, Jesus has always made it His practice to be a friend to sinners. And let’s not forget that one of Jesus’s disciples, Matthew, was also a tax-collector.
The lesson here is that nobody is “too sinful” for God to save. We are to offer the hope of the Gospel to all people. How will you open up your life or home to people who need to hear the Gospel? Where will you go to spread the Word of God?
I work with a ministry that reaches out to victims of human trafficking. I know that there are people who look at trafficking victims as prostitutes, as people who choose to do this for a living, but I don’t believe there is a choice here. The places we go to minister to these girls are not the Ritz Carlton or the Plaza. We go to and see the underbelly of society where life is down-right nasty. We go to the places that God is currently befriending the sinners and we are following after Him to share the Gospel with those who need it.
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.”
Here we see a new changed person. When we are truly changed there will be outward evidence of our inward conversion. This is the only place in the gospels where we see the conversion of a wealthy man. I do however recall a verse that talks about camels going through the eye of a needle!
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
In this final verse of our story, we see the main purpose for Jesus coming into this world. “to seek and to save the lost.” Did Zacchaeus seek God or did God seek out Zacchaeus? We can be certain that Christ is seeking us out and calling us to Him.
As we go about our week let’s also seek out the people God has put into our paths to share the Gospel with. How will you share His hope with others today?
Heavenly Father, we worship you, a friend to sinners. Thank you for sending your Son into this world to seek us out and to save us. As we go out on a branch to get a better view of you and your nature, let us not neglect to spread the Gospel to those who hunger for your life giving words of acknowledgement and value. Lord, hear my prayers. Amen