Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 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.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)
Has Salvation Come To Your House?
One of the favorite children’s hymns from the Bible is “Zacchaeus Was A Wee Little Man.” It is a wonderful story of a short, rich man, who climbed in a sycamore tree to see Jesus. When the Lord passed by, He called out to this wee little man and told him to come down because the Lord was going home with him that day. Children laugh and giggle at the joyful little hymn. Luke is the only gospel writer to mention this story but it is a powerful lesson for adults to learn. Any encounter with Jesus is going to have eternal lessons especially if you are one of the people the Jews scorned for their involvement with the Roman government.
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem where He will enjoy a momentary appeal to the masses as they welcome Him with great fanfare. As He was passing through Jericho, the Lord saw a man of great wealth clinging to the branch of a sycamore tree anxiously straining his eyes to watch the crowd below. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector. He was a man of authority who closely tied himself to the Roman tax system thereby bringing the hatred of the people upon him. Tax collectors had free reign to extort money from the people and many did this with great gain. Zacchaeus suggested that false accusation was a means collectors would use to rob the people. A chief tax collector was not viewed upon with great favor by the community of Jews.
Before Jesus arrived in his town, Zacchaeus had heard something about the Lord. Something in the story of Jesus appealed to him and he had a great interest to know more about him. What kind of man was Jesus? What did He look like? As a tax collector Zacchaeus enjoyed a certain level of authority among the people but he resorts to climbing a tree to see Jesus. It would have been most undignified for such a wealthy man to be seen climbing a tree of any kind. As Jesus passes by, He looks up into the tree and sees this man dressed in fine apparel gawking at Him. The Lord knows the heart of the man and calls him by name. That must have shocked Zacchaeus. How did Jesus know his name? Overjoyed at the invitation of Jesus the little man climbs down out of the tree and receives Jesus with great excitement and anticipation.
The crowd is not amused. How could Jesus go into the house of a man who was called a sinner? Jesus knew the heart of His host even if the crowd did not see what a wonderful expression the chief tax collector was showing. His life was changing. Zacchaeus was moved by Jesus and he wanted to make a change. Standing before the Lord, Zacchaeus proclaimed his willingness to give half of his goods to the poor and if there were any he had wrongfully taken from he would restore fourfold. He was a changed man. The Lord had come to his house and he wanted to show his love for God. Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house.”
Jesus came to seek and save lost people like Zacchaeus. The chief tax collector had lived his life getting what he wanted from his own people and on occasions falsely robbing them. Jesus changed all that. There was a deeper meaning to life. The man who took from others now became the giver of gifts. All of this came about because Jesus had come into his home. There is a powerful lesson for all to see what happens when they bring the Lord into their homes. Every home has an altar at its center. There is something that is more important than anything else and this is what the home revolves around. Before Jesus came, Zacchaeus could only see the joy of possession of wealth. His altar was the god of money, power, prestige and worldly pleasure. After Jesus came into his home, Zacchaeus realized life was more than raiment, gold or silver. He worshipped the Lord and his home changed.
If Jesus is not the center of our homes we are serving a false god. Salvation comes from the Lord and putting Him first in our lives will change our outlook, our goals and our desires. You cannot serve God and mammon. The story of Zacchaeus should remind us of the need to put the Lord first in everything we do. It may require repentance and acknowledging our sins but when we do there will be great rejoicing. Invite the Lord into your home and bring salvation. Let His rule and His mind become the center of the home in creating a place where God is honored and worshipped.