There were perhaps no more hated and despised people in that entire region that our Lord walked about preaching and teaching than the Jewish men who were tax collectors for the Roman Government. The official title these men were known by during that time was the term “Publican.” It was a political office created solely by the Romans so they could collect tax money from the people throughout the various provinces. Most of the Jewish people throughout the provinces were poor and had to work hard for the money they had and the idea that men of their own race would use the office of tax collector to charge above what the actual taxes were in order to make themselves wealthy infuriated the people. Zacchaeus was referred to as a “chief tax collector” because he most likely had other men working for him and this is why he is labeled as being rich. The people Zacchaeus employed would have to take even more taxes from the people knowing that they had to give all of what they collected to their boss Zacchaeus. Therefore, the chief tax collectors were hated and despised even more than the others.
Now after healing and giving sight to a blind man our Lord continues to move through the region teaching, preaching the Kingdom, and healing infirmities. Just like He needed to go through Samaria (a city where Jews were hated) because there was a woman there who’s heart was ready to receive Him and His Resurrection life, so does He proceed to travel through Jericho (it was a city where many rich people lived) because He has an appointment with a rich tax collector named Zacchaeus whose heart was ready and as the Scripture says, Luke 19:2-3 “Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.” NKJV Our Lord had many Divine appointments along His many journeys throughout all of the provinces and this was another one of those pre-ordained meetings.
Many people are sternly set to believe that every Parable our Lord spoke was a story He just made up to illustrate whatever spiritual point He was speaking and teaching on. I must say that I believe the story or parable told in the previous chapter (18) of Luke’s gospel was not a made up story of two fictional men, but it was the account of a true incident in the temple of two men praying one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector and the tax collector was none other than Zacchaeus. Our Lord Divinely knew of this occurrence and it is what brought Him through Jericho. Zacchaeus had beaten his chest agonizing over his sin and wanting release, rescue, rest, and redemption for his ailing soul. Our Lord put it this way in the story he told, Luke 18:13 “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” NKJV This was most definitely this man Zacchaeus I believe it with all of my heart. Surely Zacchaeus had heard of this Prophet called Jesus and how He did many miracles, but he also heard people talk of Him forgiving people’s sin and this is what Zacchaeus longed for in his heart.
So this was his time his moment and he was not going to let anything prevent him from getting close to our Lord Jesus Christ not even his short stature. Here is another proof or evidence that the soil of his heart was plowed deep and he wanted so bad just to see the Lord Jesus that the Scripture says, Luke 19:4 “So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.” NKJV Zacchaeus was now in the place ordained for him to be before the foundations of the world and he was one of God’s elect children, but he did not know any of this only he knew he wanted to see Jesus and hoped perhaps that Jesus would look upon him as he sat in that Divinely appointed Sycamore tree. Our Lord had walked a long way but finally came to the person who would give rest to His weary feet as our Lord would give rest to his weary soul. Our Lord looks at Zacchaeus and calls him to come down and take Him to his house.
The Pharisees hated these men the tax collectors as evidenced by the words in the prayer of the Pharisee in the story told by our Lord saying he prayed such, Luke 18:11-12 “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men --- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’” NKJV So perhaps this same Pharisee or one of his fellow Pharisees witnesses our Lord greeting Zacchaeus and going home with him perplexes them because this man was a sinner in their eyes and not like them who were great keepers of the Law of Moses. These men failed to understand just like so many still today that the Law was never meant to save a soul only to show every soul their sinful depravity and this is what our Lord has been teaching everywhere He went all the way to the cross.
Well, Zacchaeus did not hear any nay Sayers but all other voices were drowned out when he heard what our Lord said directly to him and he jumped down from that tree quicker than any monkey could do as he did not even feel his feet hit the ground. Like Elizabeth’s baby John the Baptist leapt in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice, Zacchaeus’s heart must have leaped in his chest when our Lord spoke directly to him and his heart was transformed from the tree to that ground. Now after they were at his house Zacchaeus proved his true repentant heart by what he said and did and the Scripture says, Luke 19:8 “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.’” NKJV Zacchaeus’s words and actions were directed to our Lord Jesus Christ and Him only. Zacchaeus was not putting on a performance for the other people present but he had only One in his heart and mind and it was our Lord Jesus Christ. Much like King David when he finally repented for his horrible sins of adultery and murder he said, Psalm 51:4 “Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight --- That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.” NKJV
“Giving half of his goods to the poor and restoring fourfold to the people he had cheated shows that Zacchaeus recognized his guilt as a sinner. Standing up openly and publicly confessing his sin provides full and complete evidence of the sincerity of his repentance and the confession he made with his mouth unto salvation. The evidence of a changed life proves true repentance. Zacchaeus did not expect to be justified by his works as do self-righteous persons who boast of what they have done or who they are. By his good works (morally excellent and virtuous actions and deeds) Zacchaeus evidenced the sincerity of his repentance and faith through the grace of God. His encounter with the living Christ wrought a change—a radical transformation—in his life. He was not who he had been. He was a new creation!” Clifford D. Tate, Sr. from Silent Assassins of the Soul” Chapter 11: Restoration to Our Original Design (What Does God’s Change Produce?)
Our Lord Jesus Christ brought salvation to a home of a man that was despised by everyone in that society and showed that whosoever will can come and drink of the water of life freely and be forgiven forever as the Scripture says, Luke 19:9-10 “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.’” NKJV I just can’t miss the complete irony in this encounter with Zacchaeus verses the encounter our Lord had with the rich young ruler. Both of these men were rich according to Scriptural documentation and both sought to see our Lord Jesus Christ. The big difference is that the rich young ruler was perceived by everyone to be a good man deserving of salvation from God, but this rich chief tax collector was hated by all people and was called a sinner everywhere he went. How ironic that the perceived “good rich man” ended up lost eternally and the perceived “bad rich man”, was saved eternally. The contrast of the eternal destinies of these two men affirms that God shows no favoritism to any human being (no matter what other people perceive of them) and that God truly and only looks upon the heart/inner man for poor spirit, mourning over sin, broken and contrite spirit and this heart alone will receive grace and faith to heal forever.
“Have you ever stood on the same plot of ground with the publican, crying--God be merciful to me a sinner?” William Tiptaft 1803-1864
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reader, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…
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