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 being a short man he could not, because of 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 what was lost.” Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus is such an interesting character in scripture. He was a very wealthy individual in a career that you did not exactly dream of as a child. Most children during Jesus’ day had hopes of either working with their fathers in the family trade or becoming a devout religious leader and lawyer. Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were pretty despised people. They were thought of as compromisers and leaches—people who sold out their own people to the Roman government and took advantage of others just to make money. Zacchaeus had been doing it long enough to become very wealthy and to climb to the top of the ladder as the “chief tax collector.” Because of his tax dealings, he would have been on the far fringes of society, rejected by most people and would have been labeled a horrible sinner.
Here is where this passage really hits home for me. Jesus passes by everyone who thought they had it all together—the people who so willingly labeled Zacchaeus and others as sinners. Jesus did not judge. Instead He zeroed in on someone who knew he was far from God and wore the sinner label. And then Jesus said a profound statement: “the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.” His whole mission was for people like Zacchaeus, people who were lost and knew they needed something more.
Today’s Prayer: Jesus, I thank You that You came to rescue people like Zacchaeus. I ask You to convict me of areas in my life where I may identify more with the people who so quickly labeled Zacchaeus a sinner. Help me to look at every individual as You do, as someone who is a child of God that desperately needs to have a life-changing encounter with You. Help me to bring life to every conversation and offer hope to the people like Zacchaeus in my life today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.