Luke 19:2-6: “Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.”
After Jesus had finished speaking to a rich young ruler, who was so confident in his own self-righteousness, and His disciples about how hard it was for a rich man to enter heaven, we find this story about Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector; in fact he was a chief tax collector and an extremely rich one at that. Tax collectors made their wealth not from the Romans who they worked for, but rather through their own fellow citizen. The Romans wanted their taxes no matter what, so they allowed the collectors to collect above and beyond what the Romans required. Therefore, the wealth tax collectors made was off the backs of their own people. Tax collectors were hated because they would exploit and take advantage of their own people and get rich doing it. Zacchaeus did this very well and made a lucrative practice of collecting from his own people.
Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was in town and had to see Him. The scriptures say that he was a short man, and that the crowds were huge, thus this made it impossible for him to see. Zacchaeus then out of a desire to see Jesus climbed a Sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Him. As Jesus passed by He stopped and called Zacchaeus to come down. The Bible said, 6 “So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.” What was the difference between Zacchaeus who was rich and the rich young ruler we see in the previous chapter? The young ruler was confident in his own self; he even went to Jesus and said, “What must I do to be saved?” He thought that there was some work that he could do to earn salvation. Yet he was unwilling to put Jesus first in his life, and walked away sad. However, Zacchaeus came down quickly and received Jesus joyfully. Zacchaeus knew that salvation came only through Jesus, and not through himself.
Zacchaeus recognized that he was sinful, unlike the ruler who claimed “all of these commandments I kept”. No Zacchaeus knew he was not perfect and knew where salvation came from; it came through Jesus. Zacchaeus put Jesus first place in his life and was rewarded. Verse 9 says, And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.” Putting Jesus first place in our lives will not only change our lives, but also those lives around us. Do you want to be an awesome parent, spouse, or employee? Make Jesus first place in your life and then all the other areas will fall into line.
Old Testament: 11 Sam 10-12 New Testament Luke 19:29-48