On His way from Ephraim to Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in Jericho, which is on the route between the two towns. In Jericho, he meets a man named Zacchaeus, and the story of what happens next will provide our point for meditation today (Luke 19:2-10 Luke 19:2-10 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at your house.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9 And Jesus said to him, This day is salvation come to this house, as much as he also is a son of Abraham.
10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
American King James Version×):
Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 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.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” 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.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
The people grumbled because the Jews had all these rules in place keeping them from associating with certain people; namely non-Jews and people they deemed “sinners.” Tax collectors were among those, because of the way the tax system was set up in the Roman Empire. Basically, Rome hired independent contractors of sorts to collect taxes, and as long as the correct amount was sent along up the chain, they didn’t care how much the tax collectors took from the people. This setup lent itself to a certain degree of corruption, and tax collectors were known for lining their own pockets by collecting more than they sent on to Rome.
So this man Zacchaeus had perhaps lined his pockets to a degree, but here in this story it shows that He comes to repentance.
Jesus recognized that repentant attitude and offered salvation to him and his household. In the midst of His followers and the crowds of Jews complaining about His associating with a sinner like Zacchaeus, Christ explained that His mission was to find and save those who were lost.
In his previous teachings, He had made a similar point before. In Luke 15, Jesus gave the parable of the woman who lost her coin, the man who lost one sheep and the prodigal son. In all three stories, the point He makes is, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10 Luke 15:10Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
American King James Version×).
Zacchaeus, a man of Israelite descent, a tax collector, and like all of us, a sinner, came to recognize his sins. Christ didn’t just meet Him on the road and offer salvation, He stayed at His house in spite of popular protest. And He told everyone gathered “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
If Christ were alive today and were to stop at my house, I’d bet people would be asking themselves (or asking each other), “Doesn’t Jesus know what he’s done? Doesn’t He know Mitch’s sins?” And the same would be true of any of us. Whatever skeletons we may have in our closet and whatever sins we struggle to overcome, we can take comfort that Christ is seeking us out in order to save what is lost. It’s never too late to turn to God, ask for His forgiveness and allow His sacrifice to cover our sins.
Today’s point for meditation: (Luke 19:10 Luke 19:10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
American King James Version×): “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Are you sometimes lost? Jesus will seek you out and save you.