Christ on Every Page

Jesus and Zacchaeus

Luke 19:1-10

Chief Tax Collector

Monday: Luke 19:1-2

Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector.  We remember the parable of the publican and the pharisee.  The tax-collector said, “Have mercy on me a sinner.”  The article “a” can rightly be translated “the”. He was not just a sinner, but in his mind he was THE sinner--a chief of sinners.  


Though short, Zacchaeus wasn’t a low man. He was a high man in authority and wealth. The scripture says he was a chief tax-collector “and he was rich”.  How greatly we may be esteemed in our own eyes, or in the world, by way of position, prestige or prosperity.  But in reality, we are a pauper in the eyes of God. It is a great mercy from God that we come to know how poor in spirit we truly are. “The Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 


Never confuse earthly eminence with greatness. 

What and who the world esteems, the Lord detests. What and who the Lord esteems, the world detests. 


And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15, NKJV) 


Zacchaeus, like the tax collector in the Pharisee story, will come to sense his great sinfulness.  From a chief of tax collectors to the chief of sinners.   He was the last man in Jericho that anyone would have thought to be changed.  But Jesus went right for the worst!


It was General William Booth of the original Salvation Army who said:

“Go straight for souls, and go for the worst. 

When God shows up, the worse get saved. Friends, that is you and me. 

Curiosity of a Child

Tuesday: Luke 19:3-4

“And he sought to see who Jesus was.”   

Curiosity drove him. Being a short man, he couldn’t see over the people as Jesus was coming into Jericho. The scripture says, “He ran ahead…” 

In the East, it is unusual to see a man run. Especially a wealthy man of authority. But here Zacchaeus runs like a little kid chasing a parade.  Speaking of children, Zacchaeus climbs a tree.  Imagine a financially crooked man in a $3,000 Armani suit with Louis Vuitton shoes sitting in a Sycamore tree. What a strange sight

The man who was already hated, must of seemed even more the fool. 

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV) 

But at the end of the day—the one who made himself a fool for Christ wasn’t such a fool after all. 


“Curiosity and simplicity are a sort of preparation for faith.” 

John Calvin


He had everything but he had nothing.  Who are these people following?  What am I missing in life?  Who is this Jesus?   His curiosity was mixed with spiritual hunger.  Had Zacchaeus become weary of wealth and started yearning for something better?  Perhaps more than anything, pride keeps many “successful” people from trusting Jesus. But Zacchaeus shows many signs of losing all pride for the sake of Christ.


Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”” (Luke 18:17, NKJV) 


Running like a child. 

Climbing a tree as a child.  

His spiritual hunger would not be unsatisfied. Jesus promised, “Whoever hungers and thirst for righteousness, shall be filled.”   

Who Sought Who?

Wednesday: Luke 19:5-7


Zacchaeus is seeking the Lord. Curiosity and spiritual hunger are at work in him.  Jesus calls him by name out the tree and He is quickly and soundly criticized because of the notoriety of Zacchaeus. He was so wicked that he was incapable of salvation--or so it would seem.

Jesus was often criticized by reaching out to the worst of these. He was accused of having bad companions as though he was sharing in their lifestyle. 

But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”” (Luke 19:7, NKJV) 

But what does the Bible say?  “tax collectors and sinners drew near to Him to hear Him” (Luke 15:1)  

Zacchaeus, like these other seekers, had been drinking from the dregs of sin; they were hung-over and tired of their life. 

They weren’t weary from pain. They were weary from pleasure. 

They wisely sought relief in Jesus. 

Jesus didn’t participate in their bad behavior. He called these from their sin by tenderly sharing of God’s help for those on the outside fringe. He told them “lost stories” like: The lost sheep. The lost coin. The lost son in Luke 15.

Jesus headed right for the tree with a well-dressed man sitting it.  

He didn’t say, “Hey you!  What is your name?” He said, “Zacchaeus, come down...” What did Jesus say outside of the tomb of that brother to Martha and Mary? “Lazarus, Come out.”

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1, NKJV) 

Know this: For everyone who seeks the Lord—it was the Lord who put the desire there. Long before Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see the Lord—God was doing a work in him. 

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16, NKJV) 

zacchaeus' Repentance

Thursday: Luke 19:8

Zacchaeus was the last man one would think to leave his lucrative lifestyle and apologize to those whom he had offended with an offer of a four-fold restitution— yet he did!  Men like Zacchaeus had no reason to quit living easy off of other’s hard work—yet he did!  This is nothing less than a miracle that came from God himself. 

The people thought Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, but actually he was only a bankrupt sinner who needed to receive God’s gift of eternal life, the most expensive gift in the world. This is the only instance in the four Gospels of Jesus inviting Himself to someone’s home, and it illustrates the words of Revelation 3:20.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20, NKJV) 

Zacchaeus was not saved because he promised to do good works. He was saved because he responded by faith to Christ’s gracious word to him. Having trusted the Savior, he then gave evidence of his faith by promising to make restitution to those he had wronged. Saving faith is more than pious words and devout feelings. It results in works. We are saved by faith alone but not by faith that is alone. True faith will have the fruit of true action that follows it. 

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18, NKJV) 

Under the Mosaic Law, if a thief voluntarily confessed his crime, he had to restore what he took, add one fifth to it, and bring a trespass offering to the Lord (Lev. 6:1–7). If he stole something, and was caught, he had to repay fourfold: 

“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.” (Exodus 22:1, NKJV) 

Zacchaeus did not quibble over the terms of the Law; he could have offered twenty cents more for every dollar stolen. Instead, he offered to pay the highest price because his heart had truly been changed.

Today Salvation has come

Friday: Luke 19:9-10

 “Today salvation has come to this house.”   

See how Jesus removes the stigma from Zacchaeus.  Jesus declared him clean as he had with many lepers.  The leper was a diseased man with a social stigma attached to him. He was bound by law, to declare in a loud voice, “Unclean!” when others were near. 

No wonder one leper prayed hesitantly, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” After all, who would engage with a contagious man? 

Jesus said, “I am willing, be cleansed.” 

Zacchaeus had a disease, not the outside, but on the inside. No one wanted to be near him. That Jesus would love dirty people like us, is deeply humbling and very prayer affirming. 


Psalm 34 reminds us that God is good.  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8, NKJV) 


A. W. Tozer wrote: “God’s goodness is different from his holiness. His goodness disposes Him to be: kind, favorable, friendly and sympathetic to those He has created. By His nature He will bestow blessedness. He takes pleasure in the happiness of His people.”


As Christians, we have the imputed righteousness of Christ. 

His goodness is what makes us good. Here is something to think about: God is good because He felt good in His heart when He created us. He redeemed us for the same reason, because He is good.  Whatever you have done, Jesus can completely save, forgive and remove your shame. Know this! 

This is why Jesus came: “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”” (Luke 19:10, NKJV)