The meeting of Zacchaeus and Jesus is one that reminds me of the importance of not judging a person by their past, and not defining a person by what they do.
Zacchaeus was a very rich tax collector. His wealth was gained due to sinful ways of deception and stealing. He was well despised by the Jewish people, because he worked for the Romans, and it was clear to them that his wealth was begotten from their taxes.
Outwardly, he should have been the last person that Jesus would have considered a suitable host for tea. But thankfully for Zacchaeus, (and for us), He looks at the heart. The Holy Spirit had been working on him to realise his sinful ways, and how he could repay his theft. If he had not, then he wouldn’t have climbed a tree to try and catch a glimpse of someone that could potentially publicly rebuke him.
Zacchaeus was lost, and he knew it. He realised his downfall through his ways of deception. And when Jesus sought him, he openly confessed his sins and repented. His heart had been transformed and this was what Jesus could see.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.
But the LORD said to Samuel, Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
Zacchaeus was surrounded by people who appeared to be good and wholesome, but inside their hearts were riddled with judgement. For if they were truly God fearing people, they would have rejoiced when Jesus wanted to dine with the sinful tax collector.
In Luke chapter 18, Jesus spoke a parable to people that believed themselves to be more righteous than they truly were. It too was about a tax collector, and his humble plea before God to have mercy upon him – a sinner. He also described a pharisee that also came before God, and thanked Him that he was not like other sinners, not even like that tax collector. He then proceeded to list his great virtues as a “righteous” tithe giver and a regular faster. On the outward appearance, it would seem that the pharisee would be justified, but rather it was the lowly and humble tax collector that left justified.
For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.
Zacchaeus had an exposed heart before Jesus. To make yourself so vulnerable to chastisement and rebuke is what often stops us from fully letting God dwell in our hearts. When we spend so much time trying to hide our undesirable past, we fail to recognise that all that time was wasted and could be better spent with Him. Zacchaeus realised this, and desperately sought Jesus to make that right. That’s what we are to look at, not at his past, but rather that he saw his future with Jesus.
It is my prayer that in every dealing that I have with other people, that I don’t exercise my judgement on them. Judgment should be left to God, for only He can see their hearts exposed.