Sitting with Jesus: Zacchaeus Reading: Luke 19:1 – 10
(v1) “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.”
Dr Luke tells us this as a fact. So, it appears that Jesus is keen to get to Jerusalem. However, on His journey, Jesus has already stopped once to minister to a physically blind beggar man who declares, “Lord, I want to see.”
Read: Luke 18:35 – 43
Now Jesus’ journey is about to stop again – again by a man who is crying out, not with his voice, but with his heart. (v3) Zacchaeus, “wanted to see who Jesus was.”
Zacchaeus was a “chief tax collector and was wealthy. (v2b)
“A Tax Collector” or “Publican” – collected revenue for the Roman Authorities. So, Zacchaeus was known as a Custom House Officer, a “Portitores” – the officer on the ground with powers to stop and search. He examined the goods, at any time on a person’s journey. They made the traders unload their pack animals, searched through every package, bale, private paper, emptied their pockets, invaded people’s privacy. They would then write out the Tax Bill and enforce payment. They were encouraged to extort money out of the people fraudulently – Back handers were then paid up the chain, all the way back to Rome. “Portitores” were usually locals, natives of the Province. So, they were seen as, and called, Traitors! They were hated. Zacchaeus would have been even more so because he was a “Chief Tax Collector.”
Zacchaeus was a practical and determined man. He wanted to see Jesus – physically, “but because he could not see over the crowd.” He knew the sycamore tree lined the route that Jesus was taking, “so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him.” (v4)
Sycamore-fig trees were planted by the side of the roads and pleasant to look at. A spreading tree, it gave shade and you could hide in it. It gave food for the traveller – edible figs. Its wood was used by Carpenters/builders to build houses and it was good for fuel.
Did Zacchaeus want to see and, or, be seen? A good question. He didn’t want to be jostled by the crowd that’s for sure. But I suspect that he was more than a little surprised by the fact that Jesus did and said what He did to Zacchaeus. He had probably thought that Jesus would walk right on by. Even so he could say to His children and grand-children in years to come, “I saw Jesus once……”
I love this thought – Zacchaeus had been called many names by the locals over the years. Even if they used his proper name it would have been in a tone of anger, with an ugly edge to its declaration. Not so with Jesus…..
(v5) “When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.”
- Zacchaeus: Come out of Hiding!
- Zacchaeus: Open up your House to Me!
Note: Zacchaeus is The Key, for Jesus, to his world!
Note: We are The Key, for Jesus, to our world!
Zacchaeus is so overjoyed. He’s not a lady and so he doesn’t immediately think, how tidy is it? I need to get home and dust the place! He doesn’t ask if the pots are washed. He doesn’t have any of that baggage! (v6) “He came down at once and welcomed Him gladly.
Jesus enters Zacchaeus’ world (v7) “All the people saw this and began to mutter He has gone to be the guest of a sinner!”
Dr Luke records in Jesus’ own words the answer to that (v10) “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The words and presence of Jesus – sitting with Jesus – Zacchaeus knew what he had to do.
- Pay It Back!
- Pay It Forward!
In the year 2,000 a film was released entitled, “Pay It Forward.” The storyline is of a student, Trevor McKinney, being challenged by his teacher to make his world a better place, as part of a School project. He came up with the idea whereby instead of paying back good deeds with good deeds, he would “Pay It Forward” – Do the good deed, by helping people go about doing good. If you like, doing ‘ARKs’ (Acts of Random Kindness). The result was transformed lives.
On this historical day the Bible records that Zacchaeus decided to:-
- Pay It Back!
- Pay It Forward!
(v8) “Zacchaeus stood up and said to The Lord, look Lord (Master) 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.
That was far beyond the requirement of Torah. Numbers 5:6-7 tells us that the legal, Old Testament law, regarding Restitution states: “Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to The Lord is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged.
Jesus saw the fruitfulness of Zacchaeus’ repentance – in word and in deed (v9) “Today Salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” By faith and by spiritual rebirth Zacchaeus was Born Again! Zacchaeus had seen Jesus physically and spiritually.
Zacchaeus’ repayment of debts, and, Paying It Forward released a lot of cash back into the pockets of the local traders and families. It rebalanced many household budgets and the local economy. And, we could, leave Zacchaeus sitting with Jesus in that moment. But let’s continue by Reading: Luke 19: 11-26 “The Parable of The 10 Minas.”
Live Life In, With and For Jesus
- Pay It Forward!
- Serve The King! Invest In His Kingdom!
- The King Will Return To Find Out What We Have Done With What We’ve Been Given!