God Is Faithful
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
Zacchaeus was a tax collector and tax collectors were hated in biblical times. Not only were fellow Jews working for Rome but they had the authority to even approach the people on the street and tax them for something they were carrying. There were many taxes needed to run the Roman empire so there were many taxes imposed upon the people for pretty much the same reasons as now…to make repairs, provide a good system of roads, provide law and order, security, etc. So tax collectors were low on the list of people to love.
As Christ came through Jericho, Zacchaeus was interested in seeing who Jesus was, but because he was short, he was unable to see Him through the crowd. Scripture states he ran ahead and climbed up a Sycamore tree so he could have a better view of Jesus when He came through the area. This action demonstrates how many times we have to climb up high to get a clear view of Christ. This means we must climb high spiritually through prayer, seeking His face. Psalm 27:8 states:
When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Zacchaeus was seeking the face of Christ. He wanted to see Him and know who He was. Out of all the people to stay with, even the more prominent people, He chose Zacchaeus in front of everyone. He chose a man most hated by all and considered a sinner for the job he did. As we see, Zacchaeus was thrilled that the Lord chose him to stay with and hurried to climb down the tree and meet the Lord. As usual, there were people who complained about Christ choosing to stay with Zacchaeus because he was a “sinner”. I’m sure Zacchaeus felt terrible hearing the people’s words.Maybe he thought Jesus would change His mind about choosing him to stay with. Zacchaeus only wanted to see who He was and even received Jesus joyfully when He called out to Him. Read that again…he received Jesus joyfully. He may not have known Jesus personally, but he had heard about Him, was curious about Him and climbed up high just to see Him as He passed by. Zacchaeus went to a great extent just to see who Jesus was. That’s more than what many would do. Zacchaeus was willing to know who Jesus was. Yes, he was curious just like everyone else who came out to see Him, but he went to great measures of climbing up high in a tree in order to get a better view of Him. That stood out to Jesus. Even though Christ can see everyone, this one man went a step further to see Christ and Christ took notice of him.
What can we learn about the story of Zacchaeus? Probably many things, but I will list a few.
First we see God’s faithfulness. God wanted all people to be saved. He didn’t just pick those who were smart, prominent, rich, religious, or popular to go to. He went to those He knew were doing wrong…sinners…because they needed His healing. He points this out in Mark 2:17:
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Jesus chose to share Himself with a man who was most hated in the community BUT who showed the most interest in knowing Him. He chose the one who went one step further in order to get a clearer view of Him and who simply had a willing heart.
Another lesson we can learn from this wonderful story is about passing judgement on others. How many times have we, ourselves, passed judgement on someone because of their job or their way of life? True, they may not be the most righteous person and some may be living the most sinful lives possible compared to the rest of us. But we must remember that Jesus sees deep within our hearts. Jesus saw into Zacchaeus’s heart and saw things the others couldn’t see either because it was unknown or because they were looking at him through judgemental eyes and could only see the surface of Zacchaeus…the job of a tax collector. So when the people began to complain that Jesus was choosing to stay with a sinner, Zacchaeus revealed himself to Jesus in verse 8:
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
These were the things the people could not see about Zacchaeus…he was a giving man and pays back not double but fourfold of anything he may have taken away from anyone by false accusation. Zacchaeus was an honorable man and most likely the reason Christ chose him in front of all these people, wanting them to hear with their own judgemental ears the man Zacchaeus truly was. So many times we judge others from a surface based on opinion instead of trying to see how they truly are. True, some people it is hard to know because of their lifestyles, but this is when we must ask the Lord to show us the truth of the person because we must be careful not to become entangled with someone who is truly a bad influence because of a bad heart. But that does not mean we do not share the gospel with them. Which leads me to lesson number three…choosing who we think we should share Jesus with and who we shouldn’t.
Many times we, in our flesh, decide who should receive Jesus and who shouldn’t. We judge them by what we see and hear and make a quick decision that they either wouldn’t receive Christ if we spoke with them, they don’t deserve the message of God or that they would make fun of us if we shared it with them. Jesus, however, was faithful to the mission and what God had called Him to do…preach the good news and bring salvation to all. Jesus went directly to those who were hated, deep in sin or were sick physically and/or spiritually. He was faithful in keeping His promise…to bring salvation and no one was exempt. Although Zacchaeus may have been doing an unfavorable job, he had a good heart and Jesus allowed that to be brought forth in front of others. Because of this and His willingness to see and know Jesus, He rewarded Zacchaeus and his household, saying the following in verse 9:
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Many times we consider others, who through their position or lifestyle, those who have forfeited their right to salvation. They chose their lifestyle/position and that’s what it is and there is no changing it. They made their choice and have forfeited their inheritance from God. Not true! In biblical times it was accepted that if you were a Jew and became a tax collector, you forfeited your position in the Jewish church. Here we see, in front of everyone, that Jesus places Zacchaeus back into position because he is a son of Abraham and salvation has come to him. He will receive the inheritance God has for him. God wants all of His children to receive His inheritance but if we continue to choose who is to receive it and who isn’t, how will people know they even have an inheritance to receive simply by receiving Christ as their savior? We must not be a hindrance in the work of Christ and a stumbling block for others. Our job as a Christian is to let others know about the free gift of salvation and then allow God to do the work. We can’t be so quick to make a judgement on someone. Yes, their life may be unfavorable, but what is truly inside their heart may be good, just covered by a lot of junk and the good just needs to be pulled forth. There are many who seem to be good yet deep within their hearts we find rot. This is why we need to leave this type of judgement call to the Lord and share the Word of God with everyone and allow the change in the person to come after receiving the Word. If a physician only gave us medication after we were healed what would be the point of the medication? We need the medication while we are sick in order to get well. People need the medication Christ has to offer from the Word of God while they are sick…sick in their sin…in order to be healed.
If you are living a lifestyle that is wrong, I have a message for you…Christ loves you and knows the depths of your heart. He sees the goodness in you beyond all the hurt and pain you have received in your life and He wants to heal you. He only needs you to be a willing participant which means believing He can do it and trusting that He will by accepting Him as your Savior. You have not lost your inheritance that God has for you…it’s still there waiting for you but you can only receive it through His free gift of salvation. He will help you to change your ways. He is a faithful God who created you out of love even though you may not have had a life filled with love. That was not His intent. God states in Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
You may not be accepted by the world, but Jesus accepts you, loves you and wants you to receive His free gift of salvation. He wants you to receive your inheritance…to live with Him for eternity where in that time, no one can hurt you, damage you or destroy you. He wants to teach you how to live in this life without carrying all of the heavy burdens you are carrying now. Jesus states in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
He’s waiting for you. Lay your stubbornness aside and trust Him. You won’t regret it.
“Lord, I admit I am a sinner. I don’t like the things that I do at times in my life, knowing they are wrong, but I feel powerless to stop it. I desire to do good and have done good things but the pain of peoples words and actions were too much and I stopped trying. I’m tired Lord. I want to change but I can’t and I ask you to help me to change. Jesus, I accept you as my Lord and Savior and I believe that you are the Son of God who died on the cross so I could live. Forgive me of my sins. Send the Holy Spirit into my heart to help heal, restore and change me. I want the inheritance you have to offer. I ask this in the name of Jesus…Amen.