The New Testament is filled with stories of men and women whose lives were changed after encountering Jesus Christ. One such story is the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus, recounted in the Gospel of Luke. Like Matthew the Apostle, Zacchaeus was a tax collector, and as such, his reputation with other people was not too good. One day, he was visited by Jesus, the Savior. Let’s dive into the story of Zacchaeus, and learn how God’s Salvation can change the heart of men.
“1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.
4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 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.”
9 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.”
During His ministry on earth, Jesus always came to rescue lost souls. Seeing that He visited those who were considered as sinners by society, such as Zacchaeus, the Pharisees would criticize Him, saying: “here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Matthew 11: 19). But Jesus replied by saying: “but go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 13). Jesus is God made man, Who came to earth to heal and save the sinners. Like any doctor looks after the sick, Jesus looks after the souls of sinners. The Savior tells us to follow His example: let us offer graciously our mercy and our unconditional love to those who need our help.
The story of Zacchaeus also reminds us of God’s Love: everyone considered Zacchaeus to be a corrupted and evil man. God saw that he needed to encounter Jesus to be saved. The Bible tells us that “the Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16: 7). Jesus noticed Zacchaeus’ efforts to see Him, and He sees the efforts we make to meet in our hearts, and to please Him. When He visits our hearts, He does not want to teach us lessons of morals, but to bring us His freedom, salvation, and joy! Try not to listen too much to the judgements of other humans, and stay focused on His Word: they have the power to transform you.