Our scripture this morning is Luke 19:1-10.
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. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I 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!” Jesus responded, “Salvation 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.”
This lesson is a reversal of the story of the rich young man told in Luke 18 as well as Matthew 19 and Mark 10. It combines lessons Jesus has shared before about how hard it is for those who love money to enter the kingdom and how we need a childlike faith. Zacchaeus is the epitome of the hated tax collector, but he chooses Jesus over his earthly wealth.
Zacchaeus runs ahead of the crowd and climbs a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, not exactly the behavior of an unscrupulous government official, more like an excited child. Jesus calls to him and says He will be a guest at the tax man’s home, which causes consternation among the people. Zacchaeus confesses his sin and vows to make reparations to those he has harmed.
Another important lesson we must see in this passage is that when “a notorious sinner” (v. 7) returns to God, we must be prepared to welcome them back as He does. This may be difficult for us, based on our human relationship, but God calls us to forgive based on our eternal relationship with Him and each other. People can change when they accept Jesus as Lord and we must be ready to see them as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Gracious God, we are humbled to be called Your sons and daughters, saved by the blood of Jesus. Help us to share the joy we find in You with all the world. Amen.