The journey of conversion: from sinner to saint… Zacchaeus’ journey started with running then climbing a tree. Luke 19:4 Why? He was trying to see who Jesus was. v.3 He was the chief tax collector and he was rich. But he had a disadvantage – he was short. v.2 Being resourceful, he climbed a sycamore tree to gain some height. Sycamore trees are tall and have dense green foliage and known for hardiness. Good choice! Perhaps it’s the only sturdy tree that can hide him and give him a good view of Jesus as well. Imagine the bureau of internal revenue chief climbing a tree in broad daylight in a crowd. How undignified! 🙂 But he didn’t care – his curiosity to see Jesus was greater…
What a wonderful surprise he had when Jesus stopped where he was, looked up and called his name! Jesus knew him. It’s even more amazing that Jesus wanted to visit his home. Surely, tax collectors were not popular persons for the great teacher to associate with! The crowd grumbled about it. v. 7
What about me? How do I respond when sinners or notorious characters get a chance to be saved?
What was Zacchaeus’ response? v. 6, 8
1) He hurried (It seems he was always in a rush where Jesus was concerned), came down (from where he was – up the tree) and received Jesus gladly. v.6
2) He repented from his ways: receiving Jesus’ mercy and grace, Zacchaeus decided to be merciful to the poor – he’s giving half of all his wealth to the poor. that’s more than 10% tithing required! Next, he decided to administer justice. He was dishonest in his dealing with the people – collecting taxes more than required. How’s his math? He considered interest, penalty and damages on top of the principal. He’s giving back 4x as much.
Jesus’ response: v, 9-10
1) Salvation has come to Zacchaeus’ home. Jesus’ affirmed Zacchaeus’ salvation route – up a tree, down a tree and u-turn from love of money to loving others. Jesus’ restored Zacchaeus back to the community – acknowledging that he too is a son of Abraham.
2) Jesus proclaimed to the people that his purpose is to restore the lost – to lead them from a life of a sinner to a life of a saint.
What’s my response? I was a sinner called to be a saint by God’s mercy and grace. How do i pay it forward? If Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see his Savior and turn his life around, what radical climbing do I have to do to experience knowing my Savior in a life-changing way?