In today's post we will look at one of the most repeated stories of the New testament. From Sunday School to VBS, the story of Zacchaeus has been told innumerable times to children because of its somewhat interesting circumstances. Zacchaeus is introduced as a chief tax collector who was also very rich. Being a chief tax collector he was probably in charge of a large tax district and had other tax collectors working for him. His profession was one of the most hated professions of the day, since tax collectors made their wealth by taxing more than what was warranted. In addition to this, these tax collectors were working for the Romans, who everyone considered to be the "Bad guys" and the agents of evil. Sinners and tax collectors is an usage we see numerous times in the Gospels, to describe the outcasts of the society. Zacchaeus was such an outcast, he was rich in material wealth, but he suffered from spiritual poverty. Zacchaeus felt a great desire to see Jesus, possible because Jesus was everything he was not. Jesus was loved by the common people, respected and honored in stark contrast to how he was treated by the general public. However, his short stature stood in his way of seeing Jesus. We read that Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree which was a easy tree to climb because of its low branches. A small man could easily get on one of the limbs hanging over the road and see over any assembled crowd. Once Jesus was under the tree on which Zacchaeus was perched, the Bible says that He looked up and commanded that He wanted to dine with him that very day. This is the only time in scripture were we see Jesus inviting himself into someone's house. It could be that Zacchaeus himself desired an occassion to talk and learn from Jesus. In any case, Zacchaeus received Jesus "joyfully" not only into his house but into his heart.
The genuine nature of Zacchaeus' salvation is seen from the fact that he was ready to make restitution for the money he had unlawfully taken from the people. On top of that, he also promised to share half of his wealth with the poor. Giving away four times what he had unlawfully taken, and half his wealth was not an easy thing to do, but Zacchaeus had found someone greater than all the wealth in the world. The story of Zacchaeus stands in stark contrast to the story of the rich young ruler who went away disappointed because Jesus told him to give his riches to the poor. Here, we see a man who wasn't asked to give, but rather gives cheerfully from his heart not to earn his salvation, but as a heartfelt deed that indeed showed the true nature of his salvation. Yes, it is difficult for those who have great wealth to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But, what is impossible with men is possible with God.
About the Author: Ben George, a college student who was apprehended by Christ and who experienced real, lasting and effortless change in his life when he was born again through the Spirit. You can find him on the web at http://benv2.blogspot.com/