Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. 2 A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” 6 So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.
7 Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One came to seek and save the lost.”
Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.” —Luke 19:8
Tax collectors were severely hated by those where Jesus lived. People were required to pay large amounts of taxes to the Roman government via a local agent—the tax collector. Also, the tax collectors often took money for themselves, which is how Zacchaeus became rich and hated. Jesus not only had a heart for the poor and marginalized but also for sinners like Zacchaeus. Once forgiven by Jesus, Zacchaeus didn’t spend time in self-loathing over what he did wrong. Instead, he told Jesus what he planned to do right and this pleased Jesus immensely. We don’t need to earn forgiveness by doing good deeds; we simply need to ask for it. But loving others with our actions, as Jesus did, shows we sincerely want to do what’s right in the eyes of God.
Questions to Discuss:
What does God require of us in order to be forgiven?
What good does it do to beat up ourselves over doing something wrong?
Why was Jesus so pleased with Zacchaeus?