by: Gabriel Tseng

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But 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.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:1-10

You come down! I’ve always wondered if this was absurd in those times. We’ve heard of people removing roofs and bringing the sick and infirm to Jesus. In terms of perspective, if people are desperate enough, things don’t seem to be out of the question.

There are a couple absurd moments that follow in the story. Jesus entering Jericho and entering through is curiously similar to Luke 10 passage with the good Samaritan. Who is this good Samaritan? A curious thought may be that Jesus himself might be that good Samaritan, rejected and looked down on, yet was the one to give up all to mend our wounds.

My being “diminuitive,” I can certainly empathize with the plight of Zaccheus. I’m sure he had done this before in other circumstances, but there certainly belies a sense of humility. While being a man of incredible stature, power and influence, Zaccheus had none when it came to Jesus and the incredible power that He had. Zaccheus did not waltz through the crowd, but went ahead and into the tree. Imagine the strangeness to see a man of high social regard in a tree. I’m sure this must have occurred to Jesus, that a man normally regarded highly, would stoopd down and climb a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.

Inviting himself to the home of a “sinner” astounded the crowd. Surprised perhaps by the ill regarded Zaccheus, Jesus was not deterred. But perhaps it was the grace and power given to such a one that the people deemed unworthy of such a gift, for a tax collector was a predatory collaborator of the Roman Empire.

Yet what astounds everyone at the end perhaps, is the response to such grace from Zaccheus. He was surely a rich man and giving monetary blessing would have impacted him less than a middle class peasant. Four times each cheated person and half his wealth would have been significant even to Zaccheus. But consider this, a reformed leader, with great influence in society, with the ability to affect the lives of many, once done for selfish gain, and now working for God’s glory and good of all people, would have an amazing stewardship opportunity for His Kingdom. For a people so distrustful of the Roman Empire, and for good reason, to have a friend in high places, would have been an amazing thing.

It would be amazing, if not how it pales in comparison and reflects the very nature Jesus showed to us. Zaccheus becoming a great mediator in the temporal world, only reflects the grand royalty we know in Jesus, not only as our friend, but as our big brother, and our King. As absurd and amazing was Zaccheus’ response of thankfulness and gratefulness to God, how much more the absurdity of a King, coming to earth as a rejected man, dying the death we deserved, so that we could live as adopted sons and daughters of the royal King?  

Leave a Reply