Day 19

Zacchaeus



Luke 19:1-10, Leviticus 6:1-7, Matthew 6:19-24, Hebrews 13:5, Galatians 3:7

BY Ellen L. Taylor

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man/ And a wee little man was he. / He climbed up in a sycamore tree / For the Lord he wanted to see.”

If you grew up in Sunday school classes like I did, it’s likely that you sang this song surrounded by Cheerios and orange juice. For me, it was also the only thing I knew about Zacchaeus until I reached adulthood. Zacchaeus was short, he wanted to see Jesus, and he climbed a tree in order to see Him. End of story—Everyone grab your coloring pages and some crayons!

But reading Zacchaeus’s story now paints a different picture entirely. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, meaning he got rich off of everyone else’s money, which likely meant those people didn’t like him very much. He was an outcast, a loner. And just like everyone else in the town, he wanted to see Jesus. He wanted to find out more about this man people were talking about, this man who promised eternal life. So Zacchaeus climbed up a sycamore tree to be able to see, and when Jesus passed, He told Zacchaeus to come down because He was going to be staying at his house (Luke 19:5).

All the people in the town who overheard this were shocked. But Jesus, as He often does, was spending time with the people who were regularly looked over and cast aside. He was spending His time with the marginalized. After Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus in kindness, aligning Himself with the tax collector, Zaccheus became convicted of his sin and was then led to repent (Romans 2:4), declaring that he would give half of his possessions to the poor, and return extorted money four times over (Luke 19:8). In the eyes of everyone else, Zacchaeus was merely a rich, greedy man, but Jesus saw him as a man to invite into conversation, into community and relationship. Jesus told Zaccheus:

“Today salvation has come to this house…
because he too is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:9–10).

Jesus came to earth to save the lost. He came for Zacchaeus. Jesus saw him up in the tree, and Jesus saw him when he came down. He saw Zacchaeus for who he truly was: a child of God, one of the very reasons He’d left a heavenly kingdom in order to bring the good news of salvation and His kingdom to us (Matthew 6:10).

From that day on, Zacchaeus chose not to serve the gods of money and wealth, but to serve the God who saved him from himself. His heart turned from a love of money to a love of Jesus and His message (Matthew 6:24)—all because Jesus saw him in the midst of his sinfulness and chose to love him anyway. Jesus does the same for us.

Post Comments (43)

43 thoughts on "Zacchaeus"

  1. Alicia McCann says:

    Lord, help me to see others through your eyes as precious children to welcome into relationship with you

  2. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I love that Jesus sees who we truly are and leads us into our true identity.

  3. Susan Crosby says:

    In times of chaos,confusion,and unrest…the words that Jesus instills in His children…I will never leave you nor forsake you…order,confidence and rest!❤️ Our Living Hope

  4. Evellyse Czubkowski says:

    :)

  5. Karen Claunch says:

    I’m sad for those who had shallow Sunday School experiences growing up…but I’m also. a little surprised by it.

    I grew up hearing these amazing Bible Stories and of course as a child there were certain things that stuck!
    However, I’ve been a Children’s minister for a long time now and I’ve listened in on lots of teachers teaching kids. They tell the whole story and even point to the gospel as they do. The kids may leave remembering the fun stuff but they heard it all and it is a part of the foundation they have been given to build on. Praise God for teachers who labor every week to teach all of God’s Truth…
    They are making an eternal difference.

    1. Jennifer Anapol says:

      ❤️ I agree! I don’t know if Sunday schools have gotten deeper since we I was a kid, but when I have helped out recently, each story is told in a “big God story” that all points back to Jesus.

  6. Searching says:

    Myself being short, I love the story of Zacchaeus. I’ve never climbed a sycamore or other tree to see, but have asked many a taller person to reach things in grocery stores.

    That being said, I’m not convinced Zacchaeus was a crooked tax collector … IF I have cheated anyone … As a tax collector, he had to be good with numbers. After giving 1/2 to the poor and promising payback at 4 times the amount, he would have to have known he would run out of money pretty quickly if he knew or thought he had cheated very many people. To me, the IF reads like he plans to double check his numbers and set things right for any mistakes he finds.

  7. Natasha R says:

    Nadine Hall, thank for that insight. My mind was blown as well!

  8. Lindsay C. says:

    It is quite possible that while Jesus was at Zacchaeus’ house, He taught Zacchaeus the same things He taught the crowds in Matthew 6:19-24. I like to imagine the two conversing about it over the dinner table. Zacchaeus was also aware of what he was required to pay back by law, yet he chose to give back much more than that, as well as half of his possessions. When we give out of love for Jesus, rather than a sense of duty or obligation, how much more generously and joyfully we give! It becomes an honor.

    Praying for you Kristen, as you grieve the end of your relationship.

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