We are now up to our seventh character in our series, ‘The Gospel According to Jesus’, who has an encounter with Jesus … and what an encounter this one is! There are some undertones of Jesus calling of Levi (Matthew), the despicable tax collector, in this particular encounter. This time it is Zacchaeus, the little man who caused people many difficulties. He was the Chief Tax Collector of Jericho! Jesus certainly knows how to choose them!
I remember hearing about Zacchaeus in Sunday school as a child. We even used to sing a song about him. I used to picture this little man being shoved out of the way by all the people because of their dislike and hatred of him because of who he was and how he ripped off so many of them. I used to smile to myself that he had to climb a tree off in the distance to obtain a view of Jesus walking past. He really deserved this treatment! I always thought it so odd that Jesus would come up to the tree and ask Zacchaeus to come on down and take him to his place for dinner. As a child, I found Jesus’ actions very strange at times. As a matter of fact, I still find them strange as I often do not think like Him!
Jesus is Jesus and Jesus is the Son of God. As such, He has the same qualities as His Father and the greatest quality, outside of His righteousness, is His love … for even the most difficult to love … and Zacchaeus is top of the list! We must never forget that Jesus was on His Father’s mission of bringing redemption to all human beings regardless the depth and level of their sin! Zacchaeus is a great story of grace, forgiveness and repentance!
It is more than a story though, as it is a true account of the transformation of yet another unlovable person into a person who becomes a follower of Jesus. Jesus even says of Himself that He has come to seek and save the lost. And Zacchaeus was certainly lost but Jesus found him and gave him new life. Jesus has sent us, as His messengers, to seek and find the lost too. It is our task to look out for all who are in need of a Saviour! David has the joy of unpacking this moving account of Zacchaeus to us today