Summary: Jesus came to "seek out and save what was lost" and He told many stories to illustrate this – Prodigal Son, the lost coin, the lost sheep. But Jesus puts these stories into action when He met Zacchaeus.
TODAY SALVATION HAS COME TO THIS HOUSE.
Jesus came to "seek out and save what was lost" and He told many stories to illustrate this – Prodigal Son, the lost coin, the lost sheep…
But in today's Gospel story we see Him in action, seeking out someone who is very unpopular and completely transforming his life.
Jesus was making His way through the town of Jericho, and evidently His reputation had preceded Him.
Zacchaeus, the local tax collector, had heard about this miracle-worker and preacher and was eager to see what sort of man He was.
He wanted to have a good look at Jesus, but being a small man he was at a disadvantage in the midst of the waiting crowd, so he ran ahead and climbed up into a tree.
I can relate to Zacchaeus, I like to be in the front so that I can catch those ‘pearls of wisdom’, get totally engrossed in a piece of music at a concert, see and hear an opera or play without distraction.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus and I would be there with him.
My problem would be climbing that tree – I would never make it!
A ladder would be useful … But Zacchaeus was up there in that tree.
It gave Zacchaeus a good view of the street, but it also set him apart from the rest of the townsfolk.
He may have been one of the richest men in Jericho, but he was also one of the most detested and hated.
He was a tax collector, extracting money from his own people on behalf of the hated Roman Empire.
Worse still, he had taken the opportunity to swindle his fellow citizens and make himself a fortune.
Zacchaeus was a lonely man, unloved and unwanted by almost everyone, so up in that sycamore tree away from the crowd was the best place for him to be.
If he had been among the crowd I’m sure some of them would have been quite happy to have shoved, elbowed and even punched him in hate.
And then came along Jesus and stopped at the foot of the tree and cried, "Zacchaeus, come down - Hurry, because I must stay at your house today."
Zacchaeus was elated that this famous preacher had noticed him and even wanted to be with him that day.
For a change here was somebody who actually wanted his company.
Zacchaeus knew what the crowd thought of him and he heard them complaining that Jesus was going to stay at a sinner's house, his house.
What happened at Zacchaeus' house? - He would have given Jesus and His apostles a fine meal, and then they would have talked.
That conversation had such a profound effect on Zacchaeus that by the end of the day Jesus was able to say, "Salvation has come to this house."
Jesus saw the potential in Zacchaeus - He knew he could be honest and live an upright life.
Jesus in talking with Zacchaeus made him feel wanted and His equal.
Jesus didn't make him feel that he was an evil man and that there was no hope for him.
While other people had ignored Zacchaeus, Jesus had acknowledged his presence and called him by name.
Others regarded Zacchaeus with contempt, but Jesus treated him with respect and He was not ashamed to be seen in his presence.
Jesus was willing, even eager, to be a guest in his home; Jesus believed in him and loved him and so Zacchaeus began to see himself as a loveable and worthwhile person.
There was no need for him to feel lonely and isolated, with nothing but money and his guilty conscience to keep him company.
Zacchaeus was small of stature, but with Jesus' encouragement he could now stand tall.
This was only the beginning of his salvation - Now that he had confidence in himself, Zacchaeus was able to change his attitude to other people.
Jesus showed him that there was more to life than just swindling poor hard working people and making himself wealthy at the same time.
Zacchaeus had alienated himself from his neighbours through cheating and extortion, but it was not too late to make amends.
"Look, sir," he said to Jesus, "I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount."
One can only speculate what became of Zacchaeus; I’m sure he kept his promise and did as he said he would.
The people of Jericho must have been astonished to see the tax collector giving away money and carrying on his business in an open and honest manner.
Gradually, they would come to trust him and make friends with him.
But Jesus also had a lesson to teach the crowd: "This man, too, is a son of Abraham, and the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost."