When Jesus began his activity in Galilee, he started with twelve men and a handful of women. Along the way toward Jerusalem, the crowd grew in size.
Some people were curious, others were opponents, but some became devoted followers.
Luke 18.35-43 is the story of a blind beggar, who received his sight and became a dedicated follower of Jesus.
The beggar is a dramatic contrast to the rich ruler (Luke 18.18-23), who didn’t think giving up his riches was a good bargain.
A Rich Man in Jericho
Jericho is once again the setting for an encounter with Jesus. This time, the man was rich, powerful, and hated by the populace.
–– Luke 19.1-4 – He entered Jericho and was passing through it.
A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich.
He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd, he could not, because he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him because he was going to pass that way.
Tax collectors were some of the most despised persons in Israel. They were Jews but worked for the Roman government.
They were rich because they charged taxes in excess of what was required, padding their pockets with what was leftover.
They were viewed as sinners and traitors to their fellow citizens.
Zacchaeus was short in stature. That may have referred to his physical height, but it certainly referred to his limited status in Jericho.
His desire to see Jesus was revealed by his willingness to climb a tree, something very humbling for a grown man to do in that culture.
Zacchaeus Come Down.
Jesus did not overlook children (Luke 18.15-17), blind beggars (Luke 18.35-430, and neither did he overlook this rich outcast.
— Luke 19.5-8 – When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”
So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
When Jesus said, “I must stay at your house today,” he was expressing a divine imperative. “Must” is a small but very powerful three-letter word in Greek.
Jesus knew it was God’s express purpose for him to eat with Zacchaeus that day. God had plans for Zacchaeus.
Many in the crowd were not able to rejoice, because they didn’t understand God’s purposes. This has been a consistent theme throughout the Gospel of Luke. May it never be a theme of our lives.
As a direct contrast to the rich ruler of Luke 18, Zacchaeus is willing to part with his funds.
In his commentary on Luke, Joel Green understands the Greek grammar to reflect that Zacchaeus has already been giving away his goods. This is a new and intriguing thought for me.
In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross explains his understanding of Green’s thoughts that help my understanding.
Whether Zacchaeus gave prior to meeting Jesus or after, he demonstrated a willingness to follow Jesus.
I believe Zacchaeus joined the crowd that walked the 16 miles to Jerusalem to be a witness to all that took place in the remainder of the Gospel story.
Jesus responded to Zacchaeus’ statement with these words.
— Luke 19-9-10 -Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.
“For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
Jesus and Zacchaeus began a relationship with each other that has lasted for 2000 years and more. Salvation is friendship with God through Jesus Christ.
The same offer is available to all humans today. Jesus is still seeking the lost so that he can save them.
Let’s be sure to pray for those who need to know Jesus. Let’s use our influence to help them experience a friendship relationship with the Savior.
When Rudy Ross and I finished the video today, he remarked to me, “That was fast.” Time does go quickly when we speak about the saving love of God.
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