Our true stature

The meeting of Zacchaeus with Christ Jesus is one of the most arresting stories in the Bible (see Luke 19:1–10). The Gospel of Luke tells us that this tax collector was curious about the man, Jesus, who was already attracting a large following as he passed along the road through Jericho. We learn from the narrative that Zacchaeus was a man “little of stature” who was unlikely to get a good view of Jesus. So he climbed up one of the sycamore trees that lined the route to get a good view as Jesus passed by. To Zacchaeus’ surprise, Jesus had already spotted him in the tree, and when Jesus came near enough he called to him saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house.” At once Zacchaeus climbed down and joyfully received his new guest!

As chief tax collector of his area, Zacchaeus had become a rich man. He seems to have been resented by the people for being part of a corrupt system of economic oppression, so when they heard that Jesus was going to be a guest in his house, they murmured that Jesus was going to be a guest of “a sinner.” But Zacchaeus took his stand—we might say he stood tall! He showed magnanimity and goodwill when he declared that he would give half his fortune to the poor, and if he had taken too much tax from anyone, he would pay him back fourfold. This went far beyond the requirement for restitution set out in the Jewish law (see Leviticus 6:5).

It appears that when Zacchaeus came face to face with the Christ, Truth, which Jesus embodied, he had a change of heart. He not only lived up to his obligation as a “son of Abraham,” but he may have begun to glimpse his true stature in Christ as a child of God. Jesus responded to his generosity by telling him, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9, New King James Version). Zacchaeus’ whole family were blessed by his giving hospitality to this unique man. Before he left to continue his journey, the Master shared with the people something of his life-purpose, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

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Spiritual Lens
"Such tender beauty, Lord..."
November 18, 2013

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