We all know that Zacchaeus was a wee little man on the outside, but how do we measure his heart after his encounter with Jesus? Jesus chose Zacchaeus, a tax collector, to host the Messiah’s entourage for a dinner. Zacchaeus had been the object of Jesus’ loving call and embrace. In response, Zacchaeus was transformed. His life as a cheat and scoundrel was dead. Jesus had given him a new heart and a new spirit. He was a Jew born anew.
The taxman wasn’t just changed on the inside; his walk would never be the same. Zacchaeus vowed to the Lord that if he had extorted more than the fair share of the tax bill, he would recompense the offended parties fourfold! The Gospels don’t tell us the rest of the story but just imagine Zacchaeus making the rounds of his tax district. As he knocked on the door of his constituents, the murmurs and curses from inside would be the same as he had always heard. But this time Zacchaeus had come not to collect Roman taxes, but to give back from his own purse. As news of this new campaign of restitution resounded across the villages, imagine the amazement, the shock, the disbelief of the people.
Zacchaeus was coming! Zacchaeus was coming! But he was coming with his purse open and was pouring out blessings on all he had wronged. How could this be? How could a cheating, conniving thief become a generous, merciful man? Only by the power of God, the God-Man, the Messiah Jesus, who walked among them.
Zacchaeus now walked by faith, and as he walked, he no longer looked out only for himself. His new heart allowed him to give freely and generously to his brothers and sisters, the very folks who held him in contempt and hated him. In his walk of generosity, Zacchaeus demonstrated a life transformed by Jesus, a life now of faith attested to by his giving spirit.
For Further Reflection:
- How does the Zacchaeus within each of us drive us to acquire wealth for ourselves at the expense of others?
- How does our generosity and giving serve witness to our walk of faith?
- How can we best steward our financial resources to inspire others to follow Jesus?