1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner." 8But 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." 9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Zacchaeus worked as a chief tax collector, because of his occupation and his collaboration with the Romans, he was “a sinner” in people’s estimation. Nevertheless, Luke in his gospel makes it clear thus far that even tax collectors can repent of their sins, as did the one in the recent parable (Luke 18:9–14). As to be expected, Zacchaeus was wealthy, further complicating his situation in the Gospel, especially since this word was just used to describe the rich official (Luke 18:23) and in Jesus’ warning about the rich (Luke 18:25). These two storylines—about tax collectors and the rich—now come together in this encounter, which also recalls the lessons from many other passages.
Since there was a huge crowd surrounding Jesus, and Zacchaeus Being Short in Stature, he could not see Jesus. So, he had to overcome the challenge posed by his personal condition and he climbed a sycamore tree. Zacchaeus was a man of high position and had abundance of wealth, nevertheless he humbled himself by climbing a sycamore tree and was not afraid to make a fool of himself for Jesus’ sake. With all humbleness he desired to be saved.
Jesus stops for Zacchaeus, calling him by name and telling him to come down. His words indicate that this is no chance encounter but one that occurs by divine necessity in fulfillment of God’s plan. Visiting Zacchaeus’s home is something he must do, and the time to do it is today. The appropriate way to respond to such a divine visitation is “in haste.”
Zacchaeus responds to Jesus by resolving that from now on his life will change. From among his possessions, he will give to the poor—actually doing what the rich official was invited to do (Luke 18:22). Whatever is left he will use to repay those whom he has cheated, making restitution four times over, going well beyond what the law generally required (Lev 5:24;12 Num 5:7). His resolution indicates the good fruits that he will produce as evidence of his repentance (Luke 3:8).
Lord Jesus Christ you are meek and humble of heart. You noticed the humbleness of Zacchaeus, so you called him down from the tree and offered him salvation. We pray that You grant us the same meekness and humility so that God may reveal to us those things He has hidden from the wise and the learned. It is through humility that we will be able to serve mostly the poor, sick, beggars, the blind and other least of our brothers and sisters. Deliver us from the desire of being loved without loving back. Remove from us the desire of being praised by others. Help us that we may desire others to be esteemed more than us.
We pray all this through Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen!