By worldly standards, Zacchaeus was successful. He worked hard and became the chief tax collector in his area around a town called Jericho. His work ethic paid off for he became very rich. One could reason that he had a very nice home (or two), took vacations, and bought in cash whatever his heart desired. Life was good.
At some point, though, he realized that something was missing in his life. I wonder what it could be since he had everything that life could offer? He succeeded at whatever he put his mind to. He worked hard, and his lifestyle proved it. Yet, his heart longed for something more. What would he long for that money couldn’t buy?
Go ahead and read Luke 19:1-10 and let’s learn from a man name Zacchaeus. He had life in the palm of his hands. Yet, you read how he desired something that money can’t buy. I would think he searched for something to fill that void that was lurking within, but did not find the very thing to fill it. He probably bought a cabin in the woods, or took that European vacation, or bought that Ford Mustang, or loved the security of seeing his 401K rising exponentially. For Zacchaeus, he probably had all of it.
So, what was missing from his life?
If you answered, Jesus, this is true. But why is that important? What difference would it make for Zacchaeus to have Jesus in his life? He could fully support himself and have plenty leftover for more than his heart could imagine. His life, by worldly standards, is going great.
You do know from the passage that Zacchaeus heard of Jesus’ arrival into Jericho. “He tried to get a look at Jesus.”3 Why did Zacchaeus care that Jesus was there? What had he heard about this man? You don’t read the why, but you can ponder and make an educated guess by what transpires. You read that he was a short man and he couldn’t see over others who were crowding around to see Jesus too.
Because of his heart wanting something more than he could obtain on his own, he climbed a tree so he could see Jesus for himself.
Do not miss this next part. If you ever question Jesus’ love for you, this next part will hopefully change the posture of your heart. When Jesus walked passed that sycamore tree, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name! “Zacchaeus! Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”5
Jesus saw Zacchaeus, and because of His love for a notorious sinner that others despised, see verse 7, Jesus was going to change this man’s life forever!
God’s love never backs down from any sin committed. It can break all barriers.
What can you learn from these first five verses?
- No matter how full your worldly life is or financially well off you are, nothing in this world will complete you. God did not create you to love the things in this world nor its values above Him. He likes when you enjoy His creation, but you are not to worship any of it. 1 John 5:21 says, “Keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your heart.” Also read Colossians 3:5, Exodus 20:3-6, 1 Corinthians 10:14, and 6:9-10. What keeps kicking Jesus off the throne in your heart?
- Zacchaeus desired to see Jesus for himself. Do you?
- Zacchaeus’ height can teach you something. No matter how hard your try, you will fall “short” in your own endeavors. You need Jesus to take you from worldly success to eternal success. One has an end date while the other takes you into eternity.
- Zacchaeus understood that he needed to see Jesus. So, he climbed up a tree. What are you willing to do to see Jesus? Everyone around him knew who he was and he didn’t care what others thought. Are you willing to go out on a limb (pun intended) to meet your Savior and Lord?
How did Zacchaeus respond to Jesus’ words? He obeyed them. He quickly came down the tree and took Jesus to his house. He was filled with great excitement and joy, see verse 6. When Jesus was present in his home, Zacchaeus stood before Jesus and spoke the most beautiful words. What did he say to Jesus in verse 8 that proved his heart changed? Zacchaeus went from worldly living to Kingdom living.
Here are several more lessons to learn so you can have a heart like Zacchaeus:
- A believer obeys God. When the Holy Spirit speaks within your heart and soul, you do what He says.
- A believer changes his ways. Zacchaeus collected taxes a whole new way, if God kept him in that same business.
- Jesus must enter your home; aka your heart. As you learn to obey, He transforms your heart. You live by a whole new set of rules from now on.
- A believer has much to be excited and joyful about. You are walking intimately with the Son of God and have access to God the Father and all His treasures. The Spirit is your guidance counselor helping you find your way home. There isn’t nothing greater!
- A believer makes things right with others. From Pastor Matt’s Claussen’ sermon on brokenness, 10.2.22, Friendship Church, MN, there are two factors that must take place for your heart to be like Zacchaeus: #1 You must admit you are broken. Unbrokenness leads to blindness. #2 In faith, you must seek Jesus for healing. Healing takes place when repentance of your sins happens and you truly believe the Gospel.
You know you have a heart like Zacchaeus when Jesus says these amazing words, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man showed himself to be a true son of Abraham.”9
Jesus will always reveal Himself to a broken heart who realizes that this earthly life cannot give what only God can give. If you are willing to give up what you can do for yourself and follow what Jesus has for you instead, my friend, you will become a very wealthy person. This new wealth can never be taken from you nor stolen. It never loses interest nor will ever become obsolete. It is guaranteed on this side of heaven as well as beyond death’s door.
Jesus came to save Zacchaeus and you and me. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”10 How do you respond?