Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. â€œZacchaeus!â€ he said. â€œQuick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.â€
Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. â€œHe has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,â€ they grumbled.
Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, â€œI will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!â€
Jesus responded, â€œSalvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Luke 19:1-10 (NLT)
This is a familiar story so if you scanned through it â€“ take a moment and read it again.
Zacchaeus was a Jew who was working for the Roman Empire. He was appointed to collect the taxes. He would be told how much he was to collect. If he could get that amount from 100 people, then everyone else would get a pass. Iâ€™m sure there was a â€˜good olâ€™ boyâ€™ system in place. In other words, if you were a â€˜friendâ€™, your taxes could be much lower than if you were a nobody. Also, Zacchaeus got to keep all the extra. Anything over what Rome wanted was his. Luke says he was rich. Guess he made sure he had plenty of extras! I also bet that Zacchaeus enjoyed that power especially if he was vertically challenged. He got the upper hand one way or the other!
Wonder why Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus so badly? Maybe his life wasnâ€™t so great? Maybe his wealth did not make him happy like he thought it would? Maybe he heard about the miracles that Jesus was reported to do? Maybe he needed a miracle.
Jesus ate with sinners. He went to their home. He did not expect the sinners to come to His. And, I believe, because Jesus came to them, their hearts were tenderized with His love and they made the decision to follow Him. Zacchaeus repented and make that turn in his life.
Jesus says, simply, in the last sentence why He came. Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost. Thatâ€™s it. As His disciple that is also to be my primary focus from two perspectives. First, if I am feeling lost, then Jesus is there for me. He can heal. He can lead me back to where He wants me to be. Where there is joy in my life. Second, as Godâ€™s child I have been given gifts. I have been given them to use to serve others. Jesus is there to be the example on how to do that. And there is more joy in my life when I am healed, growing in my relationship with Jesus, and serving others.
â€œYou are the light of the worldâ€”like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.â€ Â Â Â Â Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)