Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. Luke 19:1-9
Usually, those who encountered Jesus were the outcasts, the downtrodden, the society rejects. Today, that isn't the case. Jesus is going to meet a man named Zacchaeus, a wealthy man who ranked as a chief tax collector. Their meeting was no ordinary meeting. Since Zacchaeus was a short man, and because he wanted to see Jesus, but couldn't because of the crowd, he ran ahead and climbed a tree. He really did want to see Jesus.
Scripture tells us when Jesus caught up with Zacchaeus he looked up in the tree and told him to come down because Jesus wanted to visit at his house. So Zacchaeus did just that, he came down from the tree and welcomed Jesus to his home. (We probably don't have to tell you about tax collectors, but they carried a reputation of demanding more money in taxes than were actually owed. That's how they made their living.)
It is no wonder the people criticized Jesus for visiting the home of a sinner. But in this case Zacchaeus poured his heart out to Jesus when he promised to give half of all his possessions to the poor, and if there was anyone that had been cheated, he promised to repay them, times four.
Jesus, in his response to Zacchaeus, made the statement we all wish we could hear, "Today salvation has come to this house."
Some look at this story and surmise Zacchaeus had paid for his salvation. Closer examination shows us the real heart of a man who had met Jesus. It's really true, a genuine encounter with the Lord will change lives. Right here we have a short man that suddenly stands tall and knows his changed life demands setting some records straight. Repayment times four to anyone he has cheated, and giving half of all his possessions to the poor. Since Zacchaeus suggested those terms, they are probably an accurate assessment of an amount that had been nagging him on the inside. The result was Jesus' pronouncement that salvation had come to Zacchaeus' house.
Aren't you glad Jesus is willing to be the guest of sinners.....like Zacchaeus, and me, and all of us?