From Luke 19-20
Is it right to sit down and eat with sinners? To have fellowship with them? Jesus does just that. He goes to stay at a man named Zacchaeus’ house, the chief tax collector. Many don’t understand what Jesus is on about. In today’s passage we see the impact Jesus’ acceptance had on his life and learn that it is Jesus mission to seek and save the lost.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Shortly before today’s passage Jesus tells his disciples it is extremely difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Lk 18.24-25). In today’s
19 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. (Lk 19:1–4)
Tax collectors were normally Jews who worked for the Romans by collecting taxes. In addition to this tax collectors took a little more for themselves. Presumably, they did their work accompanied by Roman soldiers to ‘encourage’ people to give. Tax collectors could become rich from their job. The people hated them because they were seen to be helping Rome, betraying their own people and robbing them at the same time. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector. Which means he had some number of tax collectors working under him.
Zacchaeus has somehow heard about Jesus.
The earliest evangelists were those who saw Jesus and heard him speak. They shared their experience with others. Which in turn inspired them to check him out for themselves. Zacchaeus falls into this category. He wants to learn more about who this Jesus guy is and what he can do.
Zacchaeus sees the crowd surrounding Jesus and realising he cannot get to him he runs ahead knowing Jesus will come by the place he has chosen. Zacchaeus runs. According to his culture this is undignified behaviour (cf. Lk 15.20). He must be quite excited and uncaring of what people think about him.
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. (Lk 19:5–6)
When Jesus comes by he singles him out. We don’t know if Jesus knew Zacchaeus or not. Presumably if Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector then Jesus probably did. Jesus calls out to him and invites himself at Zacchaeus’ house.
Jesus calls Zacchaeus, the chief of tax collectors.
Zacchaeus immediately responds in obedience to Jesus’ call. Zacchaeus would have been aware of how the people normally thought of him. Yet Jesus here does not treat him with scorn, rather he wants to share a meal with him. Fellowship. Amazed and overjoyed Zacchaeus receives him.
7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” (Lk 19:7)
The people regard Zacchaeus as they have always done. With scorn. Now they look down on Jesus because of how he has treated him.
Jesus has gone in to be the guest of a sinner. Does Jesus want to be a collector himself? Is he condoning Zacchaeus’ job?
Jesus has no qualms about associating with sinners or being seen with them.
8 And 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.” (Lk 19:8)
Jesus reception of him certainly had it’s effect on Zacchaeus.
Clearly Zacchaeus recognizes the wrong he has committed and now seeks to set it right. He has repented. Jesus didn’t condemn him or ask him to repent. Yet he still changed.
He gives to the poor with amazing generosity. He promises to restore what he defrauded others fourfold. This is more than expected. The law of Moses only requires double. How this would work out in practice would be interesting. Does Zacchaeus go to those he remembers, or do they come to him?
The onlookers would have known Zacchaeus for years. He never repented of what he did before. Why the change now?
The answer has to do with Jesus and the effect he has on people.
Jesus is perhaps the only one who accepted him without judging. Zacchaeus calls Jesus Lord.
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. (Lk 19:9)
Jesus recognizes the profound change that has come over Zacchaeus. His actions demonstrate his change of heart. His words signify his new allegiance. No longer is money his ruler. Jesus is. Zacchaeus has been saved and is counted as one of Abraham’s offspring.
Abraham’s offspring, members of the covenant, benefit from the Lord’s salvation.
Its extremely difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, but that is exactly what has happened here. Jesus has made the impossible, possible. Jesus accepts rich people to.
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Lk 19:10)
Jesus says this to let the people around him know what he is on about. People grumbled when Jesus went to stay at Zacchaeus’ house.
What they didnt know is it’s Jesus’ mission to save sinners like Zacchaeus. He was lost. After a single meeting with Jesus, his life turned around. Zacchaeus found new life and salvation when he met Jesus Christ.
Three characters are portrayed here. Jesus, Zacchaeus and the grumbling audience.
We learn that Jesus will go to the people we least expect him to and will transform their lives, saving them from wrath and judgment. That’s his mission. That’s why he came. So don’t grumble when you see people you scorn being accepted by Jesus. He wants to save them.
For any one, burdened by their own sin and guilt. Who feel no one will except them. Believe Jesus will accept you just as he did Zacchaeus. Repent of your sin and confess him as Lord.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.