He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Zacchaeus had big plans. As the boss, he supervised the hated tax collectors who overcharged the people to fund his lavish lifestyle. Today, he would make the newest episode of American Greed. He was hated among the people.
The scent of the sweet balsam plants and rose gardens of Jericho drifted for miles. Edersheim, the historian described Jericho as the “Eden of Palestine, the fairyland of the Old World.” Jericho’s city was a center for business and trade, and paradise for a crook, a crook like Zacchaeus. He didn’t sneak into homes under the cover of darkness, instead, he collected more than his “fair share” of taxes from his own people. The Roman government would get their cut, and Zacchaeus would pocket the rest.
Zacchaeus could buy whatever he wanted, well almost everything. Something that was out of his financial reach was peace and he knew it. He had probably heard about Jesus, his healings, his teaching, his care and compassion and it was Jesus that was coming to his town. He knew God’s law and he knew he was breaking it. He wanted to get a glimpse of Jesus, but the crowds were large, and Zacchaeus was not. So instead of fighting his way to the front of the crowd, he ran ahead and climbed a tree.
Jesus is walking down the road, stops, and looks up. To Zacchaeus' surprise, Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name and says it is necessary for him to hang at his house today. The Greek word Jesus uses the same word he used to describe his impending death. It was necessary. Jesus was seeking time with Zacchaeus all along.
It doesn’t seem right that Jesus would stay in the house of a thief, but he did.
It doesn’t seem right that Jesus would die on a cross, but he did.
It doesn’t seem right that Jesus would love us, but he does.
In the presence of Jesus, Zacchaeus was completely changed. He no longer cared about his wealth, his position, or what other people said, it no longer mattered. God’s plan prevailed.
You know what? Jesus seeks you as well. No matter how far you run, he always pursues you. No matter what you think, Jesus knows you. No matter what you believe Jesus also wants you. Like the Shepherd who never stops looking until he finds his lost sheep, Jesus seeks you.
He loved us so much, that despite our crooked ways, He hung on a rugged cross so that we might live eternally with Him. God has a plan for you too, and it starts and ends with Jesus.
“Today salvation has come to this house.”
Join us Sunday as we discover the relentless love that Christ has for each and every one of us sinners.
I can’t wait!