Out on a Limb...
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "
8But 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."
9Jesus said to him,
"Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son
of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
Jesus wasn’t just passing through, Jesus, like his Father is always about, working, looking, seeking workers to work in His fields (Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard Matthew 20:1-16). Jesus was looking for Zaccheus and Zaccheus was looking for Jesus. If you seek Jesus – you will find Him! Jesus was looking for Zaccheus even though he was a sinner, a hated tax-collector/Roman collaborator, considered to be a dishonest traitor to the Jewish people, extorting higher taxes than required for his own personal selfish gain!
Zaccheus literally “went out on a limb” for Jesus. Zaccheus was a small man in stature, when Jesus was passing by, Zaccheus climbed up a Sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus over the crowds of people. Zaccheus may have looked silly to the crowds up in a tree, but Zaccheus didn’t care (much like Bartimaeus when he called out to Jesus as the crowd rebuked him). Zaccheus is an example of how sometimes a Christian may look silly and ridiculous to non-believers. Following Jesus may not be following the crowd or be popular. Jesus is always calling sinners to repentance.
Repentance is when we stop and turn around, to turn away from sin, to turn toward Christ, to follow Christ, and to be imitators of Christ, to be Christ-like, to continue our faith journey following, listening, obeying, and serving Christ.
The grumblers were very similar to the crowds in Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. These grumblers were judging Zaccheus harshly. They felt that Zaccheus was a “Sinner” not worthy to come to Jesus. They felt that Zaccheus had done nothing to deserve, merit, or earn this Grace, which Jesus was bestowing upon him.
We should always be thankful that God does call us to Him (Prevenient Grace) even though we have done nothing to deserve, merit, or earn this Grace, this Gift of Love. Jesus is a Friend to Sinners. TBTG.
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector story is very similar to the Calling of Levi/Matthew (they were both tax-collectors). The calling of Levi/Matthew is in all three of the Synoptic Gospels: