Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.' So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble, and said, 'He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.' Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, 'Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.' Then Jesus said to him. 'Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.'.
(New Revised Standard Version)
Jesus spent a lot of time with people on the edge of society, whom the Pharisees called 'sinners'. Zacchaeus typified this group. Although a Jew he worked for the Romans collecting tax for them, and like many tax collectors is likely to have overcharged people in order to make money for himself. Indeed Luke tells us he 'was rich'. The people hated such men, and couldn't understand why Jesus would concern himself with those who broke the Law of Moses.
However, Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was ready to hear his message of love. Zacchaeus immediately offers to give half of what he owned to the poor, and to pay back over the odds if he has defrauded anyone.
In Mark's Gospel Jesus says “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Jesus wants to work with those who know they are sinners, not those who believe they are the righteous. Today He welcomes us, especially when we are honest about ourselves.
Lord Jesus Christ,
You welcome us when we come to You
in a spirit of repentance.
Today we acknowledge our sins,
known or unknown to us,
and ask Your forgiveness.
May we continue to be honest
about our weaknesses,
so that we may grow closer to You.