Terry R. Baughman
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Zacchaeus was feared and hated. Probably more hated because of the power he wielded as a chief tax collector. He had become wealthy through the state oppression of his own people. He was among those most despised by the people of Israel.
When it was known that Jesus was coming through Jericho, the hometown of Zacchaeus, he purposed to see this man he had heard so much about. His biggest obstacle to seeing Jesus in the large crowd that gathered was his short stature; he was vertically challenged. Anticipating the direction Jesus would travel Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to observe the procession.
Zacchaeus did not anticipate the agenda of Jesus. Unknown to him Jesus had an appointment to stay at his house. “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’” (Luke 19:5). He was joyfully surprised and rushed to prepare for his unexpected guests.
Not everyone was happy about the choice Jesus made for association during his visit to Jericho. They all complained that, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner” (Luke 19:7). Jesus frequently dined with undesirables and those others considered unclean and unworthy of association. He was accused of being, “a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34). These accusations were cast in the most negative sense possible. Jesus made His purpose clear when He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He came to seek and save the lost.
Convicted for the corrupt practices of his profession, Zacchaeus confessed his crimes and promised to restore four times over. A transformation took place in his character and the compassion of Christ caused lasting change as he committed to give to the needs of the poor, up to half of his possessions.
Following Jesus is more than a casual confession. Jesus calls us to salvation and that process includes total transformation. It is a life changing conversion, an alteration of our motives and passions. The purpose of God is to save us from ourselves and from our sins.
Before the beginning of time God had a plan to redeem His created beings from their sins. In the foreknowledge of God He knew that humanity would fail and sin would prevail. However, an alternate plan was defined to resolve the conflict and restore created beings to their intended purpose. Jesus was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The atonement for sins was anticipated and the sacrifice of the Lamb was sufficient. John proclaimed Jesus to be, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Christ is still seeking to save the lost. His mission has become our commission, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15–16).
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).