Luke 19:5–6: “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.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.”

November 29th, 2018 by Pastor Ed in devotional

In Luke 19, we again find a notorious sinner being drawn to Jesus. We read that this man was head tax collector, which meant he was basically the chief IRS agent in the city. Jewish tax collectors, who worked for the Roman Empire, were hated by their fellow Jews because the tax system was corrupt and allowed for personal profit. We can safely assume that he had become wealthy by skimming off the top of whatever taxes were collected. He was a short, little man named Zacchaeus; a name given to him as a baby that meant “pure” or “righteous.” No doubt his parents thought he was the most precious baby in Israel, and so they named him “Pure.” How could they have been so wrong? Actually that was exactly what God wanted him to be, “righteous,” but Zacchaeus had gone the wrong way in his life.

Something must have happened, though, because Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus; and Jesus found him, sitting in his front row seat, in a tree. Jesus’ statement must have startled him: “I must stay at your house.” It sounded more like a mandate than a request. This seems to be the only place in the Gospels where Jesus invited Himself to be someone’s guest. Such a notorious sinner as a chief tax collector might have been nervous about being visited by Jesus, but Zacchaeus’ heart was prepared.

In the end, Zacchaeus repented and promised to make good his larceny, “I [will] restore fourfold” (Luke 19:8). His willingness to make restitution was proof that his conversion was genuine, but we must emphasize that this action was a sign of fruit in his life and not the cause of his salvation. This was the end result of the salvation that Jesus had brought to his life. The law required a penalty of one-fifth as restitution for money acquired by fraud (Lev. 6:5), but Zacchaeus was determined to do more than what was required. He judged his own crime severely, since much of his wealth had probably been acquired fraudulently. This was to be a costly commitment for him, because on top of that, he gave half his goods to the poor. However, from the perspective of eternity, this was the smartest bargain ever wrought. Zacchaeus had found incomprehensible, eternal, spiritual riches and did not mind the loss of temporal, material riches.

“Thank you, LORD, for the incomprehensible, spiritual riches You have given to us. Help us to serve You well this day.”