Summary: God calls us from our sychamore tree and requests residence in our hearts.
Text: When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).
In my mind, I picture Zacchaeus as being about 5 feet tall with dark hair, a little goatee, average size nose, thick eyebrows, medium to dark brown skin color, beady piercing eyes, an attitude of superiority and having little feeling and sympathy for the average person.
The fact he was a short person led him to believe he had to demonstrate his importance by exercising authority over anyone he could. Little people have a tendency to have this feeling. Deep in their hearts they have an inferiority complex, but to compensate for this, they try to exhibit a superior attitude toward other people.
The King James Version says that Zacchaeus was “chief among the publicans” (Luke 19:2). During this time in history, there were many professions and occupations. There were physicians, nurses, plowman, judges, herdsmen, musicians, priests, prophets, rulers, schoolmasters, publicans, etc. The publicans were tax collectors similar to our county tax collectors, state tax collectors or federal tax collectors.
There were two classes of publicans. There was the “chief publican”, which is the title and position Zacchaeus held and then there were the other regular publicans who engaged in the actual collection of the taxes. In Orange County, we have Earl K. Wood who is the head or chief tax collector and then he has numerous people working for him who actually collect the taxes. Earl would be like the “chief tax collector or publican” and the people working under him would be the ordinary tax collectors or publicans. We don’t use the term “publican”, but we say they work for the county tax collector’s office.
Tax collectors in the days of Zacchaeus were not well liked. They had a reputation of cheating the people. The were collecting taxes for the Roman government, but many times they would exhort additional taxes from the people and put that money in their pockets. The publicans or tax collectors were cheaters who worked against the people paying taxes. Zacchaeus was “chief of the publicans” and acquired much money using unfair tactics.
I don’t believe Zacchaues’ career goal was to be a cheat, but I think as he gained power and prestige, the sins of greed, envy and pride set in and he became spiteful, selfish and self-centered. This same thing still goes on today. An individual moves up the rungs of the corporate ladder, reaches the top rung, and forgets how it is on the bottom rung of the ladder. Once the top rung is reach, more opportunities and benefits avail themselves and soon the individual becomes like Zacchaeus, conceited and uncaring of the people below him. We have seen this recently in the Enron Corporation. One sin leads to another and soon your sin will find you out.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).
Why did Jesus say this to Zacchaeus? Zacchaeus was a cheater who daily took advantage of people.