zacchaeus

 
 
 

Zacchaeus was a wealthy man from the city of Jericho whose name in Hebrew actually means “righteous.”

However, for many in Zacchaeus’ community, righteous was the absolute last word they would have used to describe him. Zacchaeus worked as a tax collector for the Roman Government in a city that was exclusively Jewish. Now the empire of Rome had conquered the Jewish people, and were ruling over them and occupying their neighborhoods with armed soldiers. Now since Zacchaeus himself was also Jewish, his community saw him as a traitor to his own people. As if the ethnic and political tension of the situation weren’t enough to make people hate him, like many collectors he also cheated people out of their money by overcharging them on their taxes. That’s actually how he became wealthy. And his position of being a chief tax collector, meant he was in upper management. In all of Jericho, it would have been hard to find someone more disliked than Zacchaeus. He would have been seen as nothing short of a wealthy, dishonest, disloyal leader of traitors.

But all of that changes with one look from the Savior of the world. One day Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho. As was common, a large crowd followed Jesus as he was traveling. Word was spreading that Jesus was someone who could perform miracles and heal the sick and preach with authority. So everyone wanted to be near him. Now Zacchaeus was a part of the crowd that day and wanted to see who Jesus was for himself. The only problem was that the crowd was so large, and Zacchaeus wasn’t very tall so he couldn’t actually see Jesus.  So he decides to climb a tree in order to get a good look.

Now imagine everyone’s surprise when Jesus stops, looks up at Zacchaeus in the tree, and says he wants to stay in his home. Jesus, a miracle working preacher and healer, wants to spend time with one of the most despised people in the city.

The crowd is so shocked that they start to mutter and complain among themselves saying “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

Zacchaeus is undeterred by the comments of the crowd, and is so blown away by Jesus’ kindness that he completely changes his mind about everything he’s ever done to cheat and defraud people. He says boldly, “I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

In so many ways, the story of Zacchaeus is the story of what can happen in just one moment with Jesus.

 
 

Reflection

In this story Zacchaeus is significantly changed by the kindness that Jesus showed to him.

Ephesians 2:4-9 talks about the fullness of Jesus kindness that was shown to all of us. Take some time to read this passage and reflect in a journal about how the kindness of Jesus has shown up in your life. Write a few sentences expressing your gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift of grace that you’ve received. How might your gratitude lead you to live differently this week?

 
 

S.O.A.P.

Psalm 25

1 In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.

4 Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.

5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.

8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

11 For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.

13 They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land.

14 The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.

15 My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

17 Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.

18 Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.

19 See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.

22 Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!

 
 
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