The opening verses contain an account that is familiar to many of us from Bible classes as a child. Most of us remember singing about “a wee little man” named Zacchaeus. As chapter 19 begins, Jesus has arrived in Jericho, still making His way toward Jerusalem. There was a man there named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector and was rich (for an explanation of what it was that made such people notorious as sinners, see this previous post).
He was anxious to see Jesus, but because he was a very short man, he could not see over the crowds. So he climbed into a sycamore tree to get a better look. When Jesus came upon him, he told him to come down because he “must stay at your house today.” Jesus going to the house of such a man was not a popular thing for Him to do, and the people were not happy about it (verse 7). Zacchaeus told Him that he had given half of his goods to the poor, and had made fourfold restitution to anyone he had defrauded. Jesus said “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.”
The class of tax collector, especially one of this rank (often referred to as Publicans), was so despised that the Pharisees would not have considered them to be children of Abraham, even though they were by birth. Jesus’ pronouncement of him as such was significant, and certainly implies that anyone can be a true child of Abraham, as Paul will tell us in Galatians 3:29. Zacchaeus may have heard of Jesus’ calling Matthew, the tax collector, to be an apostle. He may have even heard of the parable Jesus had told in chapter 18 of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Such things would have given hope to those who had held none previously.
Was this the reason that Jesus said He must stay at his house today? Partly, for sure. But Jesus closes the scene with the statement “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The publicans had been excluded because of their sin. Jesus made clear time and again that He had not come for the righteous. He had come for sinners, and yes, for Gentiles. He was the fulfillment of God’s words to Abraham “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.