November 18 - Luke 19:1-10

Monday, November 18, 2013

Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus

Jesus entered Jericho and the crowds swarmed around him. Zacchaeus, a short, wealthy man, had to climb a tree in order to see him. Now, the interesting thing here is that Jesus stopped under the tree and looked up. He called the man by name – Zacchaeus.

This name is interesting. It is found in 2 Maccabees and means “clean” or “innocent,” two things that this chief tax collector was not. The name is Hebrew and identifies the man as a Jew, which again implies that he was reviled by most and unable to redeem himself in the eyes of the Pharisees. His sins were too great. He had become wealthy off the backs of those with whom he shared a lineage.

We already know that Jesus sought out sinners and tax collectors, but there is another bit of information we have gained by this point.

In Luke 18:24, Jesus told the rich young ruler that it was more difficult for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. The story specifically points out that not only was Zacchaeus wealthy, but as a chief tax collector, he would have wealth beyond all others who were in his position.

Zacchaeus was a very wealthy man, chief among the sinners in the eyes of Jewish society and Jesus invited himself to eat with the man, thereby encouraging more muttering among the people.

This moment changed Zacchaeus’ life and from there, because of his commitment to return what he had stolen from others, probably changed a large number of people as well. One of the things that Luke has consistently taught throughout his gospel is that possessions are an indicator of a person’s spiritual condition. When Zacchaeus offered to give away half of those beloved possessions to the poor and to go far and above the Old Testament’s rules (Leviticus 5:16, Numbers 5:7) for restitution, his repentance was honest and his salvation was at hand.

Jesus announced that salvation had come to the house of Zacchaeus, but it wasn't simply because of the man’s good deeds. His salvation came about because as a son of Abraham, he finally believed. This man’s faith in Jesus Christ transformed his household.

Jesus was already willing to seek for the one lost sheep and in bringing Zacchaeus to faith, he had done just that. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).