Who in his day would have predicted Zacchaeus to endure as one of the more endearing characters in the Biblical record? Children gleefully sing of this “wee, little man,” and his determination and enthusiasm warm hearts of every age. Beyond all the feel-good facets of his testimony, however, there is something about it that leaves us a bit unsettled, isn’t there? It’s the money. His eagerness to submit everything to God can leave us examining our willingness to do the same.
Can we all just assume that, upon waking that pivotal day, there was, in Zacchaeus’ mind, no thought, no inclination, nor even the possibility of the joyful generosity for which he is now known? Money was his master—the insatiable god of a calloused life—for this tax collector had amassed his fortune by gouging others, rising as faithfully as the sun to pursue still more by detestable means. Yet on this day, his mind was elsewhere: he “wanted to see who Jesus was,”1 and by nightfall, he had. Zacchaeus called Him, “Lord!”2 and with everything he had, he would serve a new God, the true God.
Jesus once observed, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”3 yet of his wealthy host He declared, “Today salvation has come to this house.”4 How did this happen? What moved Zacchaeus to choose this new path in the opposite direction? In Jesus, he had encountered an engaging God who knew his name and desired his company.5 In Christ, he had met a humble God who would suffer from the crowd a rejection He did not deserve in order to show mercy to this man whose rejection was well-earned.6 On mission to see who Jesus was, Zacchaeus found that Jesus knew him well and that He had come to seek and to save him, “the lost.”7 He had seen who Jesus was, and he “received him joyfully.”8 What was money now but something to be submitted to God for His glory?
Transformation begins with “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”9 His Spirit moves in us, softening the heart that knows it is loved, sharpening the mind that knows Who is true, and strengthening our will “to work for his good pleasure.”10 Jesus is worth far more than anything we have, and we can trust Him with everything we are.
If I give away all I have, … but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)
Father, I cannot fathom all you’ve done for me, but I can praise you for it. Change my heart into one that does as you lead me to do, submitting everything to you, always in gratitude and joy. Be my Lord. Amen.
1 Luke 19:3
2 Luke 19:8
3 Luke 18:24
4 Luke 19:9
5 Luke 19:5
6 Luke 19:7
7 Luke 19:10
8 Luke 19:6 ESV
9 Colossians 1:27
10 Philippians 2:13 ESV