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December 2014


The story of Zacchaeus, told in Luke 19:1-10, contains some surprising elements, which can be beneficial to all who read it. Please read with me and learn why this story matters in your life.
Let’s start with some context and background. According to verse 1, “Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.” Jericho was also the city where Zacchaeus lived and worked as the chief publican or tax collector. (In British English, the word “publican” usually refers to the manager/owner of a pub or tavern. However, in ancient Israel, the word “publican” meant tax collector.)
Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and was curious to see the man that everyone was talking about. There seemed to be controversy that surrounded Jesus. Wherever Jesus went, some would praise Him and others would slander His name. (In this regard, not much has changed since ancient times. People still argue over Christ’s identity, some claiming He was an imposter, while others claim Christ to be the Son of God.)
As the story progresses, we learn that because Zacchaeus “was of short stature” (Luke 19:3), he ran ahead to climb a sycamore tree, hoping to see Jesus as He passed by the tree. “When Jesus came to the place, He looked up, and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must stay at your house.’” – Luke 19:5
Wow, we can only imagine the astonishment of Zacchaeus who just wanted to SEE Jesus, but now Jesus wanted to COME to his house!
Notice the following points:
1. Jesus acknowledged that Zacchaeus “was of short stature,” inferring that it does not matter to Jesus whether we are short or tall, slim or not so slim. Jesus does not discriminate. He is not concerned with the color of our skin or our national origin. We are all God’s children. Just the fact that we were born makes us all-important to Jesus, so important that He was willing to give His life for us.  What an incredible Savior!!
2. Jesus called Zacchaeus by name.  If you ever feel that no one cares about you, or even knows your name, this story will remind you that Jesus knows everyone by name, including you and me. In Psalm 147:4 we read, “He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names.”  If Jesus—who made the stars, billions of them—knows them all by name, then it is reasonable to conclude that He also knows your name, my name and the names of all 7 billion people who occupy Earth.
3. Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus must have brought happiness to His heart. Zacchaeus demonstrated a willingness to accept Jesus without hesitation. According to verse 6, Zacchaeus received Jesus “joyfully.” (Have you heard Jesus calling your name or “knocking” on the door of your heart?  What was or is your response?)
Some Pharisees and others in the crowd, however, were not sharing in the joy of Zacchaeus, and instead they began to mutter about Jesus “going to the house of a sinner”. The story of Zacchaeus is similar to that of Levi the publican (also known as Matthew), and in that story, according to Luke 5:30, the Pharisees murmured and asked, “Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners?”
The Pharisees were terribly mistaken in their thinking, like some today, who think if their names appear on the church role, they are safe from the fires of hell. These same folks prefer not to mix with “unchurched outsiders” and fail to answer tough questions such as, “How are we going to win people to Christ if we don’t associate with them?” Jesus recognizes the importance of spending time with fellow believers, but also encourages us to spread the Gospel, which inevitably requires us to spend time with unbelievers.
The answer that Jesus gave in both “publican” stories in Luke should never be forgotten.
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:10. We are all sinners in need of the Savior, and until our death or the Second Coming, we will always need Christ’s righteousness to cover us. We will never get to the place in this life when we can say, “we have done enough good works to save ourselves.” Never, never, ever!!
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” –Ephesians 2:8
For this reason we can rejoice with both Levi and Zacchaeus.
Never forget, Jesus knows your name!!!
Blessings, Beverley Carter
P.S. – Please share this with friends who need to know that Jesus knows their names.

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