When the Israelites were under the Roman regime, the Romans made use of the opportunity and enslaved them in every way they could. One of the many means they employed slavery was ‘tax’. They extracted every pie in the name of tax. Since it was a blatant misuse of power they employed ruthless inconsiderate tax collectors who usurped hard earned money from the Jews. The Jews hated the tax collectors and generally referred them as ‘sinners’.
On the other hand, the tax collectors had a ball of their life time. Since they had power and authority with fear of people, they grew rich. Most of the money they snatched from the people didn’t reach the government but filled their own pockets. The Jews became accustomed to paying tax without questioning fearing whipping and thumping on refusal.
Among the tax collectors, the Bible talks about one Chief tax collector in Luke 19 who was very rich, had authority and earned the fear of people on him. One thing he lacked was that he was short unlike the other tough, muscular tax collectors. Zacchaeus, though being a sinner (Chief sinner in his case!) he had an urge to see Jesus(v3). I love that part than all the others…He wanted to see Jesus!
The street in Jericho was swarming with people. Everyone was eager for Jesus’ arrival. It was like the whole of Jericho squeezed into a street. Not an inch of space was available. Every single spot was occupied and everyone was waiting for that moment for Jesus to enter. Zacchaeus arrived just in time and found that he wouldn’t be able to see Jesus because of the crowd. He would have certainly tried to squeeze himself into the crowd to reach for the front row so that he could get a glimpse of Jesus. But the tall sturdy Jews wouldn’t let him in because of their hatred towards tax collectors.
This is the most important part…though Zacchaeus took a decision to see Jesus, the circumstances didn’t allow him to do that. Remember Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, a person of high state in the government. All he could do was to humble himself to a point where he could himself come and see Jesus. But as things around him didn’t seem to help him by anyway, it would have been a perfectly valid resort to backup and head home. He could later use his power and authority to bring Jesus to his home!
This is where Zacchaeus stands out…the reason why his name is mentioned in the Bible is because circumstances didn’t matter to him. At that moment, his decision became his determination. He was determined to see Jesus whatever it may cost! He spotted a tree and climbed on it. Could you imagine a Chief tax collector climbing a tree? Yes, when you are determined to see Jesus, you would dare to at any cost. My Jesus can never forsake a yearning heart. Among the thousands gathered there, Jesus stopped by that tree, looked up and called him by name, “Zacchaeus, you come down from there. I want to stay at your house today” (v5)
Later, when Jesus entered his home, true salvation came and Zacchaeus gave half of his property to the poor and returned four times what he usurped from the people (v8).
Today we may have been a Christian for a pretty long time now. Every time we decide to seek Jesus we falter on the way due to circumstances. Generally these circumstances are so genuine that we justify ourselves and compromise. It is only when we determine, take a stand to see Jesus at any cost, we would see His face and He would stop by, call us by name and walk into our homes. That is true salvation.
Lord Jesus, help me to have a determined heart to seek you. Whatever may hinder, let me determine to see you alone. Amen