Summary: The account of Jesus calling Matthew to be a disciple and His encounter with Zacchaeus are so similar even though one occurs at the beginning of Jesus' ministry and the other near the end. the consistency of Jesus' ministry was amazingly focused-salvation
Review of what we’ve covered so far this Lenten season:
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God
(foundation of the church)
Jesus came to bring abundant life
Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets
Jesus came to bring a sword
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
“He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him, since Jesus was coming that way.
“When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed Him gladly.
“All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’ But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord,
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
“Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”
For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost!
Video of the above Scripture (excerpt from JesusVideo.com)
If there ever was a lost person it was Zacchaeus the collaborator!
Zacchaeus was a Jew and Israel was now occupied by a foreign empire, Rome! Zacchaeus was collaborating with the Romans, he was collecting taxes for them and even worse, he was cheating the Jews from which he was collecting taxes by over taxing them.
And, even more worser, if there is such a thing, he was hiring other Jews to collaborate with him in collecting taxes for the Romans!
There is no indication in the Scriptures that Jesus knew Zacchaeus before this encounter but somehow He knew about Zacchaeus. Whether it was from conversation or by divine knowledge we don’t know but Jesus recognized him and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ home for a meal!
Can you imagine how this must have felt to Matthew also known as Levi?
Listen to Mark 2:13-17
“Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to Him, and He began to teach them. As He walked along, He saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth.
“‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed Him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Him and His disciples, for there were many who followed Him.
“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw [Jesus] eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked His disciples: ‘Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?’
“On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
So, you see, it’s almost the same event that happened when Jesus called Matthew to become His disciple.
Jesus sees the man who is a Jewish Roman collaborator (in both cases)
Jesus has dinner at his home (in both cases)
The Jewish leaders complain about Jesus associating with sinners and tax collectors (in both cases)
Jesus makes basically the same reply, “I came to save them!”
“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
And, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
So, what does this mean to us?
First of all we need to think of the people who were at the party!
Jesus - tax collectors (Roman collaborators) - sinners (gentiles) -
Jesus! - He was there - of course He was there or it would not be recorded in the Bible and we would not be talking about it right now!
Jesus was a big deal! At this point Jesus is near the end of His three years of ministry on earth. The calling of Matthew was near the beginning of His ministry and the dinner with Zacchaeus was near the end.
You would have had to live in a cave not to have known about Jesus. Blind beggars beside the street knew about Jesus. Herod knew about Jesus and wanted to see Him perform a miracle and the Jewish leadership surely knew about Him from both accounts.
Sinners were there! That is, gentiles were there. While they could convert to Judaism they would always be second class Jews and not allowed in certain areas of the temple or synagogues. But, boy did they want to be around Jesus, if only to watch and see what might happen.