“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'” (Luke 19:1-10)
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, and he did whatever he had to in order to see Jesus. In his case, he ran ahead and climbed a tree because Jesus was soon to pass by that way. Jesus took notice of Zacchaeus and his heart because Jesus knew the heart of man.
WHY DID JESUS WANT TO GO TO ZACCHAEUS’ HOME?
“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:23-25)
No one had to tell Jesus what the heart of men was like. He knew their thoughts and their ways. While no one else sees the heart of another, Jesus did and still does. Our Savior didn’t need to be told, and even in Jeremiah, the prophet noted what the heart of man is like: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” BUT Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ heart, and Jesus called out to Zacchaeus who was in the tree. Zacchaeus HEARD JESUS CALL HIS NAME, PROMPTLY OBEYED JESUS, QUICKLY CAME DOWN FROM THE TREE and RECEIVED JESUS JOYFULLY because Jesus was coming to his house. Zacchaeus wanted to hear what Jesus had to say and responded to Jesus’ message. Note these words of the passage, “So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.” Zacchaeus RECEIVED Jesus joyfully. Because the message of Jesus made a difference in Zacchaeus’ life, we can see the result of Zacchaeus’ changed life and his repentance. It took an act of genuine repentance on Zacchaeus’ part. Zacchaeus not only received Jesus, he also turned from his wicked ways, made restitution giving back more than he took in cheating people, and had a change of thinking. In that act of repentance and in the act of Zacchaeus changing his wicked ways, Jesus brought salvation to Zacchaeus and his household. The evidence of Zacchaeus being saved was demonstrated. How you live before God matters.
Claiming to have a relationship with Christ is more than words. Having a relationship with Christ means daily communing with Him, and loving Christ means obeying His commands, being faithful and loyal to Him no matter what the cost. Having a relationship with Christ means having a heart of contrition and repentance, receiving Jesus and His message, turning from your wicked ways, and changing the way you think so that your thoughts are aligned with God’s thoughts. Having a relationship with Christ is about laying down your will and your ways and walking in the ways of God, following the example Christ has set for you. Having a relationship with Christ means laying down your life for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, concerning yourself with mercy and justice and faithfulness, and walking humbly before Him. Saying you follow Christ without your life matching your words means nothing.
While you have breath there is a chance for repentance, changing your ways, and changing the way you think. Take an example from Zacchaeus and his attitude before Jesus. Zacchaeus didn’t just speak words of contrition. His words of contrition were backed up by his actions, changing his ways and turning from his wickedness, gladly receiving the message of Christ.
“Then Jesus called the crowd to Him along with His disciples, and He told them, ‘If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and for the gospel will save it. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels,’” (Mark 8:34-38).
One day each individual will have to stand before the God the Creator of all things, and each will be called into account for every idle word spoken and every action taken. So what will you do with what you know about Jesus? Who do you say Jesus is? Will you accept or reject Him? What you do with Christ is a matter of spiritual life and death, and what you do with Christ will determine where you will spend life after death. Don’t miss out on eternity with God by rejecting the only means of salvation God provided through His Son Jesus Christ. Choose life with Christ. Living a life truly sold out in devotion to Christ is worth it.
Linda A. Knowles