Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a cheif tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. Luke 19:2-4
Zacchaeus was rich. He wasn’t just a tax collector, he was a CHIEF tax collector. He did Rome’s dirty work and the Jews didn’t like him (although Zacchaeus was a jew himself). Jewish tax collectors were considered ‘sinners.’ They viewed these tax collectors as sell-outs to the Romans. These ‘sell-outs’ made a good bit of money, and often times would collect more than they were supposed to keep more money for themselves.
So here we have a business man who is pretty high on the todom pole. He’s rich, he’s in a high position, life is good. But he hears the story about this man Jesus. One day he hears that Jesus is in town. He goes outside to see him, but because he’s so short, he can’t. So what does he do? He RUNS ahead to where Jesus is going to pass by, and he CLIMBS A TREE.
Business men don’t run, do they? Rich people don’t climb trees, do they?
Can you imagine this? Imagine a business executive coming out of an office building. He’s dressed in the finest of suits, he’s wearing the finest of shoes. He has a fine gold watch and other expensive jewelry. He’s the image of pride and wealth. Now imagine him on his tip-toes trying to see over the crowd. Then imagine him running off towards a tall tree and then proceeding to climb the tree. Look at this wealthy man sitting in a tree like a monkey! This is what Zacchaeus did!
This is all significant because Zacchaeus acted out the condition of the heart that is necessary for salvation. He demonstrated humility, and Jesus noticed it:
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.” v. 5
Look what stumbling blocks Zacchaeus could have stumbled over:
– the pride of having wealth, “I don’t need to see Jesus, I have all that I need.”
– the pride of elevated position, “I’m a chief tax collector, who cares about this ‘King of the Jews.'”
– the insecurity of being short, “I’m not going to embarrass myself by climbing a tree.”
Zacchaeus overcame theses stumbling blocks and now his name is forever remembered in the pages of the Holy Book. He’ll be known as the man who gave half his wealth to the poor and the man who paid back all those whom he had done wrong. He’ll stand in the assembly of the saints in the last day as righteous, although if he’s in the back you might not see him :-).