The story of Zaccheaus is one of the most familiar Bible stories of all time. That familiarity may cause you to miss something about it (and the story of Bartimaeus right before it, Luke 18:35-43). Namely, it is the story of how one man, bound for an eternity in hell apart from God, finds salvation and everlasting joy in the beautiful one, Jesus Christ.
It will be my delight to preach this story come Sunday. As I prepare, I was stopped cold by this quote from one of my favorite dead guys, J.C. Ryle, commenting on the story:
These verses describe the conversion of a soul. (!)
Like the stories of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, the story of Zacchaeus should be frequently studied by Christians. The Lord Jesus never changes. What he did for this man, he is able and willing to do for anyone else.
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.
8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”
9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
(Luke 19:1-10, New Living Translation)