Luke 19:1–10 (NKJV)
In this passage, Jesus is going through Jericho and encounters a man whose reputation made him anathema to the Jewish people. Jesus sees something redeemable in him and calls him out for a visit.
19 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”Luke 19:1-10
8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Zacchaeus, a tax collector, was a man of poor reputation. He cheated people, extorting them in today’s way of looking at his behavior related to tax collection. For some reason, when he heard of Jesus’ presence in Jericho he wanted to see Him. Jesus’ reputation was profound. He could not get in a good position, though, for he was short, and most likely no one would let him get in front of the crowd because of their dislike for him. Being resourceful, he ran ahead of the entourage and climbed into a tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus. When Jesus arrived at his location, he looked up and told Zacchaeus to come down and entertain Him at his home. Zacchaeus came down, and the gossip and criticism began. People could not believe that Jesus would be the guest of such a man.
In the presence of Christ, and before witnesses, Zacchaeus declared his intention to reform and to repay the injustices which he had inflicted on others. His restoration would be far beyond his extortion. He showed a repentant heart by his generous and selfless actions. Jesus told him that salvation had come to his house, and spoke the infamous words, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” This story is told and taught and preached in many locations and is an example of the grace and transforming power of Jesus’ ministry. This man was considered cursed by the people, one of their own sons, but was redeemed because of Jesus’ acceptance of him as a person and His ministry to him personally. Don’t overlook an “undesireable” and miss an opportunity for transformative ministry!