Now a man there named Zacchaeus

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Gospel Luke 19:1-10

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.

 

These stories of healing are a personal favorite of the gospels. Yesterday it was the blind beggar of Jericho, and today the short tax collector Zacchaeus. Tax collectors in Jesus’s time were not highly thought of because of who they collected taxes for, and the manner in which they collected them. In life, like in the scene the gospel describes the tax collector would have been at the bottom of the social order, and blocked from many decent avenues of life. They would have been at the fringe of society. As the gospel mentions Zacchaeus was a sinner, and was a sinner due to his livelihood. The interesting part about this short little man though is not his sins, but his enthusiasm for seeing Jesus. Though blocked off by the crowd he makes every effort to overcome his obstacle. It was that determination that caught Jesus attention, and once he reaches Jesus he again makes another effort to be in unity with Christ by offering retribution for his offenses. He offers to return money, and give to the unfortunate. For that contrite heart Jesus grants salvation. That salvation that Jesus offered him did not come from the crowd, in fact they were an obstacle to it. The short little man indeed does show an important path to salvation, with his desire, determination, and his repentance.

For today’s 40-day blog the theme is immortality. With Zacchaeus, might immortality be seen in his dying to his sins, and rising to salvation or everlasting life by following Christ? Zacchaeus knew the situation he was in before his encounter, and likely knew to die in a state of sin was an eternal suffering. He knew Jesus’s message, he knew that promise of salvation was near; wasn’t he in a way reaching for immortality, for everlasting life?

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