Zacchaeus The Wealthy Tax Collector

Dan Corner


A Biblical Examination of Zacchaeus of the Bible (Luke 19:1-10)

The conversion of Zacchaeus the tax collector is very encouraging! God cares about the lost and wants us saved like Zacchaeus!zacchaeus Zacchaeus is also a prime example of why the Lord Jesus needed to travel around from town to town. The Lord Jesus needed to go to Jericho to save Zacchaeus, among other reasons. Jesus' love for the spiritually lost becomes apparent, as we focus on Jesus and his spiritual concern for Zacchaeus.
zacchaeus Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. (Luke 19:1-4)
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector in Jericho. That is how Zacchaeus became wealthy. Since tax collectors were considered as sinful as prostitutes (Mt. 21:31,32), it gives us some idea of how dishonest and wicked they were back then! Zacchaeus was a multiple of that, being a chief tax collector.

Zacchaeus -- A Blow To Reformed Theology

Such a sinful and spiritually dead man, of his own free will, made the first step towards God. Zacchaeus chose to physically see the Lord Jesus as he passed by. What a blow that truth is to Reformed theology! That started his miraculous salvation conversion.zacchaeus There was a problem though. Zacchaeus was short and the crowd obscured his view. So, Zacchaeus climbed a tree, showing his persistent determination.
zacchaeus When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. (Luke 19:5,6)
Jesus called Zacchaeus by his name! Imagine that! How did Jesus know Zacchaeus’ name? The same way he knew the details about Nathanael (Jn. 1:47-49). The Lord invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house for Zacchaeus’ sake.

At the same time, it became crystal clear to Zacchaeus that Jesus was interested in him! Zacchaeus must have been stunned! Zacchaeus wasn’t despised and shunned by the Lord because he was a known sinner. Zacchaeus was thrilled and gladly took the Lord into his house! NOTE: Zacchaeus’ first act of obedience was his quick departure from the tree, as Jesus commanded.

Witnessing Truths For Reaching The Lost and Soul Winning

God’s Love For The Lost

zacchaeus All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" (Luke 19:7)
Jesus going to the house of Zacchaeus caused an adverse public reaction in Jericho! zacchaeusThe crowd knew Zacchaeus was a sinner and began to mutter. So why would the holy Lord Jesus go there if it would cause a whole crowd of people to complain about his actions?

The love of God for souls is not influenced by public opinion or theology. Also, Christian theology is to be shaped around scripture and God’s truth and not the reverse!

zacchaeus But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." (Luke 19:8)
Zacchaeus was a man who was involved in a hated profession -- tax collector. For the sake of the personal gain, Zacchaeus was willing to cheat people, but now there was a radical and strange spiritual change, since Zacchaeus made contact with Jesus! Money was no longer viewed the way it was before.

Zacchaeus further openly acknowledged Jesus as Lord and verbalized he would give 50% of his possessions to the poor and pay back those he cheated 400%. That reflected his heart change and saving faith.

"IF I Have Cheated Anyone"

Moreover, notice how Zacchaeus stated he would repay those he cheated. Zacchaeus said IF I have cheated anyone. Of course, Zacchaeus cheated people, but now he was ashamed of his sinful past and stated it in that way -- purposing to make things right before God. Before he actually did those promised things, Jesus pronounced Zacchaeus saved.

Zacchaeus Comes To Salvation BEFORE The Cross

zacchaeus Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham." (Luke 19:9)
zacchaeus Instant salvation came to Zacchaeus. That is a mind blow to some people's false theology! Why? Because Zacchaeus got saved BEFORE Jesus died on the cross to pay for our redemption. Zacchaeus wasn’t led through the sinner’s prayer, neither was he ushered off to be water baptized, etc. Zacchaeus got saved because of his OBEDIENT faith in the Lord Jesus, whom he openly confessed as his own Lord (which means master). That was his testimony of Jesus.

Religious Lost Cornelius The Centurion Comes To Salvation

Wealthy Zacchaeus coming to salvation helps us better understand another truth made about the rich. Such proves scripture supplements scripture. We must view all the bible verses on any given subject to assure accuracy, including the rich entering the kingdom of God. To a different rich person Jesus said:
Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. " (Luke 18:24,25)
Just one chapter before the salvation of rich Zacchaeus the tax collector, Jesus spoke those words. It seems impossible, unless you understand them in light of other verses and people like Zacchaeus.
zacchaeus For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)
That is part of the reason why Jesus went through Jericho, that is, to save what was lost -- namely Zacchaeus. There were many lost people in Jericho who watched Jesus just pass by. They remained lost and dead. Zacchaeus was different for he reached out to God and found eternal life!

Zacchaeus is never specifically mentioned again in the bible, like various others who were gloriously saved like Cornelius the Centurion, the Ethiopian eunuch, etc. If Zacchaeus endured hatred to the end for final salvation’ sake (Matt. 10:22; Heb. 3:14) or not remains a bible mystery, as with many others.

Rich Man and Lazarus Teaching

Points To Remember About Zacchaeus

  • people (Zacchaeus, the unnamed woman of Luke 7:48-50 and the repentant thief of Lk. 23:42,43) did get saved before Jesus died on the cross
  • zacchaeus
  • some extremely wicked people, like Zacchaeus, are open to the Lord Jesus
  • the chief sin for Zacchaeus was selfish dishonest gain for money
  • Zacchaeus got saved somewhere from a tree to his house -- not in a church building
  • unlike other "sinners," Zacchaeus had a sincere interest in Jesus and was reaching out to God
  • wealthy people like Zacchaeus can get saved, though it is hard for the rich (Luke 18:24,25)
  • Zacchaeus was not the only tax collector that Jesus saved! Matthew was also once a tax collector (Mt. 9:9) and became an Apostle (Mt. 10:1-4)!
  • radical observable changes occurred when Zacchaeus’ value system and priorities changed because of JESUS
  • Zacchaeus’ view of the importance of money and the material immediately decreased, when Jesus became his Lord and first love
  • Catholics NOTE: Zacchaeus didn’t first go to Mary the mother of Jesus to get to Jesus and saving grace. In fact, there is no evidence that Mary was even near Jericho at the time of the Jesus and Zacchaeus encounter.
Pass this teaching about Zacchaeus on to those you love and care about.


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