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Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in the region of Jericho where he lived, and he became very rich from doing what he did. Looking at today’s verse, it’s quite obvious that he wasn’t a respected and well-liked man - he was seen as a sinner. One day he heard that Jesus had entered Jericho and was making his way through town. He was eager to see who Jesus was, but because he was short in stature he couldn’t see because of the crowd. So he made a plan: he climbed a sycamore tree along the way and waited for Jesus to pass by. When I was growing up, we sang a little song about Zacchaeus climbing the tree to see Jesus. (Luke 19:1-5). It always brings a smile to picture him running and climbing that tree. It was such a good idea. But there is more to Zacchaeus’ story!

When reading this recently, I realised that if Zacchaeus had taken everyone’s opinion of him to heart, he might not have followed through on his eagerness to see Jesus. But he just ignored them, climbed that tree and his wish to see Jesus was rewarded by Jesus calling him by name and asking to to enter his house as a guest! Zacchaeus was overjoyed (verse 6). His heart turned in obedience to Jesus and he chose to change his ways. Jesus responded in verse 9: “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.”

When Jesus looked at Zacchaeus, He saw a man looking for Him; He saw his heart. Jesus knew who he could become in the kingdom of God. Yes he was a sinner, but that wasn’t what Jesus focused on. He acknowledged Zacchaeus, called him by name and defied everyone else’s opinion of this sinful man by going to his house. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10 NLT).

How do we treat people who need and wish for Jesus in their lives? Do we treat them in such a way that keeps them away from Jesus because we don’t think they deserve to be in His Kingdom, or do we see who they can become if they experience His love and acceptance? I wonder if there was anyone encouraging Zacchaeus to climb that tree, or was he just being scorned? Jesus teaches us: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.”(Luke 6:37 NLT).

It could also be that you are reading this today and longing for Jesus in your life, but not feeling worthy of Him. Maybe people’s opinions of you have kept you caught up in unworthiness and you don’t think you will ever be acceptable to Jesus. But in John 8:1-11 Jesus shows His heart for the condemned by His words to the people who were ready to stone to death the woman caught in adultery. This is His heart for every sinner that turns to Him. And remember: “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24 NIV).

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for Your redemptive love and for seeing me as no one else sees me. You will never turn away from those who turn to You. Please also help me to show this abundant love of Yours to those who need You. Amen.
 

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Scripture

“When the people saw it, they all began muttering [in discontent], “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a [notorious] sinner.”
Luke 19:7 AMP

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Today's Writer

Annalene Holtzhausen is on the Associate Team at Ellel, Africa. She is married to Renier, who introduced her to Ellel Ministries. She is a full-time mother to their two boys. Her passion is for the restoration of women’s hearts and for people to find their worth in the Lord.

Annalene Holtzhausen


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