And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”Luke 19:1-7
In the theme of redemption, don’t ignore the story of Zacchaeus. While this brief story is often relegated to a children’s story as the “wee little man climbed a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see,” there is something deeper than a catchy children’s song. Zacchaeus experienced real life change as he encountered Jesus Christ.
Zacchaeus was despised by his own people as a “sinner.” Why? The wee little man had sold out his own people in order to collect taxes for the Roman government and, in the process, he had cheated others in order to build his own wealth. Despicable? I wonder how many of us have made selfish choices?
More importantly, how many of us have responded in the way Zacchaeus did after encountering Jesus? Without hearing a sermon, he responded to Jesus’ invitation by repenting and stating his newfound generosity to all he had wronged.
Zacchaeus’ conversion marks the unconventional methods of Jesus again. He was more concerned with the change of heart than with a process that pleased the crowd. We all have our traditions, but when do our traditions get in the way of experiencing Christ?