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Archive for February, 2012

And 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 of 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.” (Luk 19:2-10 ESV)

 

A name can tell a lot about a person. Zacchaeus’ name means “pure” according to Strong’s and is the Greek form of the Hebrew, Zakkai. How befitting is his name after his encounter with Jesus. He was a “chief tax collector”, that is a “superintendent of customs and tribute,”[1] as well as a rich man, due, not only to the richness of the city[2], but also probably because of his unrighteous handling of the revenues.

 

Yet we instantly see a change in Zacchaeus. We see determination and excitement at the prospect of seeing this “prophet from Nazareth”[3], as he, “ran on ahead.” Due to his stature, he climbs a tree in order to see Jesus, which would have, due to etiquette and social status, been undignified.

 

Now whether Jesus and Zacchaeus had ever met before, Luke does not tell us, but I believe it is safe to assume they had not. So when Zacchaeus hears Jesus call out to him by name, he “[hurries] down and receives [Jesus] joyfully.” One wonders, at that moment, if Zacchaeus spoke in his heart the same words of Nathanael:

 

“Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Joh 1:49 ESV)

 

As we have already noted, there is no indication that Zacchaeus had ever met Jesus before now. Had he heard any of Jesus’ teaching? How much had he learned from others? Luke, who I believe is given to detail, does not tell us. However, he does tell us that:

 

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.”(Luk 19:8 ESV)

 

Why did Zacchaeus make such a statement? Being a “son of Abraham,” he would have known the Law and the Prophets, thus knowing that his riches were gained unrighteously and that restoration would have been required. He knew this beforehand, before his encounter with Jesus. Something was different now. Something was compelling him to do the right thing. Something had made joy to be found within him. It was the fact that he now stood in the presence of the Lamb of God. Jesus did not have to tell Zacchaeus what to do. He did not have to tell him how to feel. Zacchaeus did not respond with constrained obedience, but joyful obedience.

 

I hope you see the point. When we come to know our Saviour we should act towards him as we did/do with our new found love/spouse. They do not have to tell us to do things to show our love, we naturally just do them because we love them. We should feel the same way about obedience.

 

Jesus told Zacchaeus “I must stay at your house,” and Zacchaeus responded not only joyfully, but obediently. Jesus tells us:

 

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (Joh 14:23 ESV)

 

Jesus is saying to us “I must stay at your house today.” Will you “receive him joyfully?” And because of His presence, not constraint, relish His glory and holiness, and be obedient?


[1] Fausset

[2] “The palm groves of Jericho and its balsam gardens (now no longer existing) were so valuable that Antony gave them as a source of revenue to Cleopatra, and Herod the Great redeemed them for his benefit.” Fausset

[3] Matthew 21:11

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