The Story of Zacchaeus
One day, Jesus was walking through the city of Jericho. A man named Zacchaeus lived there. He was a rich man who worked as a tax collector for the Roman government. Zacchaeus was rich because he demanded more money from the Jews than the Romans required. He kept the extra for himself. Of course, that made the Jews angry. Life was hard enough for them under Roman rule, without having one of their own people stealing from them. You can bet no one wanted to be Zacchaeus’ friend!
Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus. When he realized Jesus was coming down the road, he went out to see him. Zacchaeus was a short man, though, and he couldn’t see over the crowd. Quickly he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree. From up in the branches, he could see Jesus easily.
Imagine how surprised Zacchaeus was when Jesus got to the tree, looked up, and said,
“Zacchaeus! Come down. I’m going to your house today.”
What an honor! Zacchaeus slid down the trunk of the tree, proud and excited that Jesus knew who he was and wanted to visit his home. The other people weren’t so pleased.
“Jesus is going to the house of a sinful man,” they whispered. “Zacchaeus cheats and steals. Even though he’s a Jew too, he works for our enemies – the Romans!”
But Zacchaeus stood up in front of everyone, and told Jesus,
“Lord, I’m giving half of everything I own to the poor.” He looked around at the crowd. “And to the people I cheated, I’m giving back four times the amount I took from them.”
“This is why I came,” said Jesus. “To look for lost people and to save them. Today you have been saved!”
I wonder what made Zacchaeus decide to change?
I wonder what Jesus meant when he talked about lost people?
I wonder what it means to be saved by Jesus?
I wonder if Zacchaeus had friends after he met Jesus?