He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
~ Luke 19:1-10 ~
I love the passage from Luke. It is such a small story, but it has a great meaning. This is a story that should relate to all of us. In this story, we are first Zacchaeus and often the townspeople. But let’s start with Zacchaeus’ story and see what it means for us.
Zacchaeus does not start out a believer. He is an outsider to all. He is unliked, unloved, unwanted, and probably mostly avoided. He lies and steals, he is a cheat. He is a sinner. But when he hears about Jesus, he becomes something else. He is a seeker. Something, or Someone, starts to pull at his heart and prick his mind. So he goes out to see what this thing is. He doesn’t seem to have any real intentions about it, he just goes to have a look.
But Jesus sees him. He really sees this lost man. Jesus knows him and recognizes him for what he is. A lost and condemned sinner. And He loves him. So what does He do? He just tells him, “I am coming to YOU!”
Immediately, Zacchaeus responds, and he does so joyfully. Once Jesus has come to him, he is a changed man. He desires to makes amends on what he has done in the past, for he has been forgiven and loved. He acknowledges his guilt and repents, changing his life because his life has been changed. How amazing is this!
Friends, this is us. Whether we were baptized into Christ as little babies or as adults, we are Zacchaeus. We were alone, unloved, and unwanted. We were filthy sinners. But the Holy Spirit inspired faith and Christ sought us and found us and saved us. He said to us, “I am coming to YOU!” And immediately, our lives were changed. We did not go to Him, but He sought and saved us out of His mercy and grace. What an amazing gift!
And now that this has happened, we are changed people. We can love, can be kind, can serve God and His people. And yet, our sinful nature tries so hard to have mastery over us. And that is where we become like the townspeople.
The townspeople see themselves differently. Where Zacchaeus knows his status among the people, an unloved outsider, the people forget they are in the same boat. They are held in low esteem at the temple. Moreover, they also are sinners. They hold this self-righteous attitude when they are in just as much need of a savior as Zacchaeus!
How arrogant of them to scornfully say, “That thing is a sinner.” yet they forget the lowly state they themselves are in.
But how does Jesus respond? He reminds them that this man too is a child of Abraham. They are all in this together! And Jesus came to seek and save them all. Salvation came to that house, that person, because of Jesus’s grace and love. Salvation has come to us for the same reason.
This is what makes grace amazing. We were wretched, outcasts, lost, and dead. But now we are clean, welcomed, found, and also be in Christ! We were lost, but now we have been found by the one who pulled us out of darkness and into glorious light! This is amazing, this is grace. This is not of ourselves, but a gift of God.
So when you read of the story of Zacchaeus or think of the little song, remember that we were that little man that Jesus saw and saved. Remember this also when we want to be like the townspeople and think too highly of ourselves rather than the needs of others, for there are so many out there that we should be seeking and serving. God wants all men to be saved, and we are all His creation. Let us rejoice in this new life given to us and share this joy with others like the changed people we are!
Blessings to you and yours,