“Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.'” (Luke 19:8)
Zaccheus was a wee little man,
A wee little man was he.
He climbed up in the sycamore tree,
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in that tree.
And He said, “Zaccheus, you come down,
For I’m going to you house today.
Remember that song? Even today, I find myself singing it from time to time. Zaccheus was a famous fellow. He was a well-known sinner. He was a publican, which means he was a Jew who collected taxes for Rome from his own people. Zaccheus had gained much wealth by padding the tax collection. Rome gave him a certain amount that he was to collect from each individual and if Zaccheus could collect more than what was owed, he pocketed the difference.
I don’t think Zaccheus had a list of conservative groups that he targeted — but he was certainly unpopular with his neighbors nonetheless.
When he heard that Jesus was going to be passing by on that particular day, Zaccheus really wanted to see him. We usually think that Zaccheus got up in the tree merely because he was too short to see over the crowd. While that is certainly true, I wonder if the tree was actually a safer place for Zaccheus. My guess is that when the townspeople saw him, they would have kicked and pushed and shoved him right out of the way. They literally hated Zaccheus.
And yet, Zaccheus was miserable in his sin. He was searching for meaning in his life. My guess is that his job as a tax collector was not nearly as fulfilling as he would have led you to believe. He had heard about Jesus. He heard about the wonderful things He was doing in other people’s lives. And Zaccheus was curious. He wanted to see. It’s a shame that nobody actually invited Zaccheus to join them in going to see Jesus . In a way, it woudl be like me or you going to a Billy Graham crusade and failing to invite our lost neighbor who lives right next door to go with us!
While others didn’t care about Zaccheus, Jesus sure did. He looked up in that tree and told Zaccheus to get down — he was going to have company at his house that day. The Lord was going to eat with Zaccheus.
After meeting Jesus, Zaccheus made a decision. He wanted all the people who hated him to know that his life had been dramatically changed. But how could he convince them that his conversion was real?
Simple! Give back all the money he had stolen from them. And not only did Zaccheus give it back, he went far beyond the demand of the law of Moses. He actually gave back 4 times as much and he used the other half of his ill-gotten wealth to help the needy. Zaccheus was indeed a “new creation”(II Corinthians 5:17).
How many of our testimonies are just words — no action? I wonder how many people look at you and me and say, “His words sound nice, but I just don’t see any change.” Isn’t that sad? Zaccheus’ testimony was more than just words — he put it into action!
Today, remember that our testimony has very little value unless we can back up our words with our actions. We are not here to impress others — we are here to impact their lives for Jesus Christ!
Have a great day.