We read about the story of a man called Zacchaeus as clearly presented and articulated in the account of Luke. The meaning of his name (‘to be pure’) was not reflected in his character probably because of the job and occupation he did. He was a tax collector who worked for and was employed by the Roman Empire and not for the Jewish community. By this, they were despised and labeled as corrupt by the community. Though seen as corrupt, he was a popular person and his position carried both importance and wealth.
From the content of the story, he had heard about Jesus and how people followed and thronged Him. He had heard about the popular Lazarus (Martha and Mary’s brother at Bethany) and how he was raised from the dead; and many more stories that caused him to be curious. He desired to see who this Jesus was and off he went. However, he discovered that he had some weaknesses in that he was a short man and because of his size he might not be able to catch a full glimpse of the Messiah coupled with how he was perceived among the Jewish sect.
Knowing that the tax collectors and publicans were the last people any of the religious teachers would want to have any association with, I am sure he wasn’t thinking about any communication or association with Jesus; he just wanted to see Him. Was he thinking salvation? No!
Was Zacchaeus discouraged about people’s opinion about him? Was he discouraged about his size and stature? No, he wasn’t; he had gathered information about where Jesus would pass through. To surmount one of the weaknesses he had, he decided to climb upon a tree where he could have a good view because all he wanted was to see the Jesus people had been talking about; and he was so sure Jesus would pass through that way. Here is a man that won’t give up because he had some known weaknesses. He was rather determined because of what he wants to see.
He went ahead of the crowd and climbed upon the sycamore and waited for Jesus to travel through. To his amazement, Jesus got to where he was and called his name, “Zacchaeus, come down from the tree, for salvation has come to you and to your house”. Immediately the crowd began to murmur because Jesus decides to associate with someone who they (in their opinion) called and associated with and as a son of Satan.
Many reading this, would have thought the main character in this story was Zacchaeus and little do we know that Jesus was the main character in this story because part of the reason why He came to the World, was to seek and save all that were lost including Zacchaeus. Jesus said, I have not come for the righteous but the sinner to repentance. Zacchaeus was the sinner in the story and unknown to him, the Savior was coming for him. Jesus was coming for the man that was tagged a sinner by the people.
This was what we were before we became Christians. It wasn’t long ago that we were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. We allow the world tell us how to live, when they don’t know the first thing about living. We filled our lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose His temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on His own, with no help from us! Then He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
Zacchaeus must have been surprised that Jesus called his name; not only did He call his name, He also told him to come down immediately from the tree, that salvation had come to him and his household on that same day. God surely knows who He is going to save and when He is going to save anyone. God must have earmarked that day to be the day that Zacchaeus would meet the Savior and the day of his salvation.
Zacchaeus couldn’t have chosen Jesus; Jesus chose him and brought salvation to him. Jesus left the whole crowd and went to be with Lazarus in his house. Jesus told His disciples that, “You didn’t choose me, remember I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil.” When it comes to the saving grace and the people God will save, IT IS LEFT AS GOD’S CHOICE. No man can decide to go to God except God has first chosen him and when God chooses, He comes to help the one He has chosen to come to Him.
God can save anyone, no matter how deep the person is in his or her sin. Even if the world condemns you, God is still very much able to save you.
“What a great word, that word “salvation” is! It includes the cleansing of our conscience from all past guilt, the delivery of our soul from all those propensities to evil, which now so strongly predominate in us; it takes in, in fact, the undoing of all that Adam did. Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen estate; and yet it is something more than that, for God’s salvation fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell. It finds us broken in pieces by the sin of our first parents, defiled, stained, accursed: it first heals our wounds, it removes our diseases, it takes away our curse, it puts our feet upon the rock Christ Jesus, and having thus done, at last it lifts our heads far above all principalities and powers, to be crowned forever with Jesus Christ, the king of heaven. Think, brethren, you were blind: he has made you see. You were lame: he has made you leap. Worse than that, you were dead: he has made you live. You were in prison: and he has made you free” – C.H. Spurgeon