Even though he’s only talked about in 10 verses of the book of Luke, Zacchaeus has quickly become one of my favorite people in the Bible. On Tuesday we looked at his climbing of the tree so he could see Jesus, but today I want to examine the rest of that interaction. Let’s pick it up with verse 5.
Luke 19:5-7 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” 6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.
I love the description of Zacchaeus’ demeanor in this moment. He took Jesus to his house in “great excitement and joy.” Is there a more appropriate response to being in the presence of Jesus than this? I adore that this man who wasn’t just a sinner, but a notorious one, seemed completely transformed just by the presence of Jesus. While all of the people grumbled over Jesus’ choice to go to the home of this notorious sinner, Zacchaeus did what he’d been doing so well since Jesus arrived in Jericho. He ignored them all and focused on what was most important. Look at the reaction Zacchaeus has as he stands before Jesus.
Luke 19:8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”
No self-deception, no excuses, no pretending, Zacchaeus was a sinner. He knew it and admitted it all immediately in front of Jesus with no prompting. But look at this verse again, it’s really one of the most amazing verses in the Bible. There is no dwelling on the sin. No excuses, no breath wasted explaining things, going into long detail. Zacchaeus immediately focuses on what he’s going to do to make it right. He doesn’t just say “I’ve been a bad man”, he instead says “here’s how I’m going to become a good man.”
I’m truly blown away by Zacchaeus and his reaction to standing before Jesus. If you know me then you know that I’m a big believer in the biblical truth that we have to do more than speak words. Faith without works is dead, and we are to be doers of the word and not just hearers of it. Zacchaeus is immediately putting these concepts into action. He’s not just saying “I was wrong and I’ll do better”, he’s doing better! It’s an amazing example of how to make things right.
The reaction of Zacchaeus really got me thinking about the word “over”. Jesus doesn’t just love us, he “over” loves us. His love goes so far beyond regular that it’s impossible to describe with words. I heard a pastor say recently that one drop of Jesus’ blood would’ve been sufficient to cover our sin, but he chose to spill all of it. Over. The extra mile. We serve a Savior and a King who goes “over” for us. What should the response to that be? Zacchaeus knew. He didn’t just give 10 percent of his wealth away, he gave half away. He didn’t just pay back those he cheated their money or even double their money, he “over” paid them back four times as much.
Like Zacchaeus, when we realize the ways in which we’re out of alignment with God, maybe we shouldn’t just correct our behaviors, maybe we should “over” correct. Instead of just stopping talking down to our family members, maybe we should commit to building them up daily. Instead of just putting an end to a harmful addiction, maybe we should start seeking out others who are caught in that addiction and assisting them in stopping too. Zacchaeus displayed for us a beautiful “over” reaction, and if you know anything about Jesus, then you know it’s the type of thing that he’s always going to honor. Check out what happened next.
Luke 19:9-10 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Zacchaeus, the notorious sinner. The swindler, the cheat. Now the redeemed true son of Abraham.
It doesn’t matter who you’ve been, or even who you are in this moment, what matters is going before Jesus and having the appropriate response. There are none who are too far gone from the transformative powers of our beautiful savior. Zacchaeus proved that, and it’s still being proved to this day as Jesus continues to change hearts and lives. Commit yourself to matching Jesus when it comes to “over”. Love people beyond what is normal, help beyond reason, give until it hurts, knowing all the way that God’s going to bless you and reward you in the end.
I love you guys. It’s been a long journey but I’m starting to see the end of the book of Luke on the horizon. I’m excited to see what else it has in store for us before we get to the final verse!
If you’ve got a prayer request or just need someone to talk to, my email is always open to you at firstname.lastname@example.org