Luke 19:1-10 – Jesus and Zacchaeus

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Luke 19:1

  1. Why did Jesus pass through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem? The only thing that happened in Jericho during this visit was Jesus’ meeting with Zacchaeus, so most likely Jesus entered Jericho just to meet Zacchaeus.

Luke 19:2

  1. At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were occupied by the Roman Empire, and the Romans demanded taxes from the Jews. This tax provided a revenue for Rome and thus paid for the Roman occupation, while at the same time weakening the Jewish people.
    1. The Romans liked to hire Jews to collect these taxes, and these Jewish tax collectors, also called “publicans”, often charged a higher tax than the Romans demanded, so that they themselves would make a profit from the Roman tax. As a result, the tax collectors were despised by the rest of the Jewish people and considered greedy traitors who had gone over to the Roman side.
    1. Not only was Zacchaeus a customs officer, but he was also a foreman of the customs, and could thus make even more money from the Roman tax.
    1. In Mark 2:15-17, Jesus eats at the home of some publicans, which upsets the scribes and Pharisees, but Jesus justifies his fellowship with these people with these words, “It is not the healthy who need doctors, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Luke 19:3

  1. Zacchaeus was small in stature, and even though the Bible text itself says nothing more about this, one can assume that Zacchaeus has been bullied because of this. Perhaps it was even what caused him to go over to the Roman side and take advantage of the Jewish people out of some sort of vindictiveness or revenge?
    1. One can also imagine that Zacchaeus felt he had to be extra hard on people to get anyone to take him seriously at all and not look down on him.

Luke 19:4

  1. Neither running nor climbing trees was something that a respectable adult male engaged in. Climbing trees was something that children did, and it must have looked hilarious when the rich businessman climbs a tree.
    1. Here Zacchaeus does exactly what Jesus said to do in the previous chapter, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17).
      1. It may seem silly for a grown man to climb a tree to get a little closer to Jesus, but who was being silly? Zacchaeus, acting like a child to get closer to the Lord, or those who stand by and mutter angrily when a sinner wants to be saved?
    1. It is a constant challenge for established Christians to dare to be open to new people who long to meet Jesus, but who may not fit into the Christian mould.
      1. If Jesus is ready to receive these people with open arms, shouldn’t we be too?
    1. It can undoubtedly be very hard for someone who longs for Jesus, but has no Christian friends or acquaintances. It takes a lot of courage to tell your non-Christian colleagues that you are thinking of going to church on Sunday.
      1. It can also be very uncomfortable for an established Christian to come forward for intercession during a service because they may be worried about what others will think.
      1. But all those who ignore what others mutter behind their backs, and instead do everything they can to meet Jesus, will receive a reward worth more than anything else, namely, they will meet the Lord Jesus Christ!

Luke 19:5

  1. Jesus’ stopping at Zacchaeus’ house to eat with him is not a coincidence, it is the very essence of Jesus’ ministry; to seek out those whom other people despise, to urge them to repent of their sins and offer them fellowship with the Lord.
  2. The first thing Jesus does is mention Zacchaeus by name. Knowing someone’s name means that you are interested in that person and want a relationship.
    1. Jesus knows all those who belong to him and knows their names (John 10:3).
    1. Personally, I have heard God’s voice many times, but the first time I heard him clearly, he spoke just one word, a word that meant everything to me: “Christian”. He didn’t have to say any more, because I knew that that one little word meant so much; he knows who I am, he knows me, he has accepted me and he will be with me.
  3. Jesus wants Zacchaeusto hurry up. If you are thinking about becoming a Christian and feel Jesus calling you, do as Jesus told Zacchaeus, hurry up and don’t let it wait.
  4. Eating with someone in Jesus’ time was a sign of community, acceptance and belonging. Jesus’ desire to eat with Zacchaeus does not mean that he was acutely hungry, but he is showing us what it means to be a Christian, namely communion with Jesus.
  5. In the context of Zacchaeus being saved, who was it that sought whom? Zacchaeusdid what he could to get closer to Jesus, but it was Jesus who was calling him. So both were involved in Zacchaeus being saved. When we take a step towards Jesus, he takes a step towards us. When Jesus takes a step towards us, we should hurriedly take a step towards him.

Luke 19:7

  1. “Grumbling in anger” is something God’s people have always done in all times when God has worked in ways they did not expect, such as when the people of Israel “grumbled” about having to wander in the wilderness when God rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 16:7).
  2. Living morally right and staying away from sin is undoubtedly part of the Christian vocation, but there is a danger that this pursuit can go awry and lead to a reluctance to engage with immoral people who live in sin.
    1. We must remember that the fact that a sinner is saved is a result of God’s grace, not of our own effort to be as “perfect” as possible. One does not have to be perfect before becoming a Christian, but one will undoubtedly be transformed after becoming a Christian, perhaps not all at once, but certainly as one goes along.
    1. In his encounter with Zacchaeus, Jesus shows us how he managed to combine his own sinless life with spending time with sinners in a very exemplary way. Jesus voluntarily chose to associate with the most despised in society, and Jesus’ example is our model.
      1. We Christians are the body of Christ and should, like Jesus, seek out the most despised in society and invite them into fellowship. Exactly who these groups are varies between times, societies and cultures, but the principle is the same.
      1. We Christians should beware of becoming a club of inward admiration. It is important that we dare to extend a hand to those who need our help without fear of getting a little dirt under our fingernails. Jesus came not to heal the healthy but to heal the sick, and so if we want to follow in his footsteps we should seek out the places where sinners are and look there for those who long for Jesus.

Luke 19:8

  1. Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus’ invitation is apt: he recognizes his sins, confesses them publicly, and tries to right all wrongs.
  2. It was only after Zacchaeus met Jesus that he was ready to stop his sin and get his life in order. You don’t have to be perfect to meet Jesus, but meeting Jesus will affect your life so that you want to do the right thing.
  3. Too often we think that salvation is just something that happens on the inside, but here we see that Sackaeus’ encounter with Jesus affected his whole life.
  4. Zacchaeus stands in contrast to the rich man in the previous chapter (Luke 18:18-30), who is urged by Jesus to sell everything he owns and give to the poor, but who is unable to do so because he was “very rich”. Zacchaeus becomes a “cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7) in his encounter with Jesus.
    1. The fact that Jesus does not urge Zacchaeus, like the rich young man in Luke 18, to give everything he owns to the poor, shows that this was not an invitation Jesus gave to everyone, but rather was based on the specific situation of the rich young man. The important thing is to be generous and to put all one’s possessions at the service of God.
    1. It is not the giving of money that is Sackaeus’ reaction to salvation, but the joy, which in turn leads Sackaeus to be generous, probably because this is what was his sin.

Luke 19:9

  1. It is quite possible that the vast majority of Jews saw Zacchaeus as a traitor who had gone over to the Roman side. Perhaps they no longer even regarded Zacchaeus as one of “Abraham’s children”, i.e. a Jew. But here Jesus shows with all the clarity he desires that everyone who believes in Jesus becomes a child of Abraham.
    1. One is not saved by being born a Jew or by being baptized. You are saved by receiving Jesus.

Luke 19:10

  1. The first time Jesus came to earth, he came to reach out his hand and offer reconciliation and salvation to all (John 3:16-17).
  2. The second time Jesus comes to earth, he comes to judge the world with righteousness (Acts 10:31).
  3. Until Jesus’ return, it is our task as Jesus’ disciples to reach out like Jesus to all those whom society despises, to all those who long for Jesus, and to all those who long to meet Jesus.
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