Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Luke 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 There was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because of the crowd, since he was a short man.

4 So running ahead, he climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus, since he was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today it is necessary for me to stay at your house.”

6 So he quickly came down and welcomed him joyfully. 7 All who saw it began to complain, “He’s gone to stay with a sinful man.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.”

9 “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.

The Original Intent

1) What can we learn about the gospel’s reach from Zacchaeus’ story? (verses 2-4 and 10)

Jericho was an important site for collecting taxes in ancient Palestine and Zacchaeus was a Chief Tax Collector, holding a high office in the Roman tax system. Under this unjust system, tax officers gained income by extorting more money from taxpayers than what the law required.

This worked very well for Zacchaeus; apparently, considering the text mentions his wealth, he was quite skilled in exercising unjust extortion. He was a member of a despised group (Tax Collectors) and had grown wealthy through his thievery. Money was his god and love of Self ruled the kingdom of his heart.

If you read the chapter before the story of Zacchaeus, you’ll find more unlikely recipients of grace. A widow, representing the lowest of the low, was given an audience with the Just when society said she shouldn’t have a voice with anyone. (Luke 18:1-8)

Another tax collector was heard and seen by God while the outwardly “righteous” Pharisee was rejected. (Luke 18:9-14)

Children, considered meaningless in ancient society, were elevated to sit with the esteemed Rabbi and be physically touched by Jesus in radical, fatherly love. (Luke 18:15-17)

Then, a twist appears in the narrative, as the wealthy and esteemed young ruler approaches Jesus and inquires about gaining access to God. He is rejected by Christ for he refused to tear down his idol of possessions. Jesus goes on to say how difficult, seemingly impossible, it is for the wealthy to gain access to eternal life. (Luke 18:18-25)

With these stories lined up, Luke then invites us to watch the movements of one short, highly despised and incredibly wealthy man who did gain access to God! Zacchaeus’ humble, repentant heart demonstrates that all can come to Jesus if we come with humility and a desire to love God first above all else.

The Everyday Application

1) What can we learn about the gospel’s reach from Zacchaeus’ story? (verses 2-4 and 10)

Luke, the one recording this scene in his gospel, writes with a strong thematic interest in the universal scope of the gospel. Luke chose his encounters of Jesus to tell plainly that the gospel message of salvation is for all people, Jew and Gentile alike. Throughout his gospel, Luke emphasizes the fact that Jesus was a friend not only to Jews, but to Samaritans and other social outcasts including women. (Luke 10:25-42)

In reaching out to Zacchaeus, calling him by name instead of by his occupation, Jesus extends personal rescue from sin and an invitation to be welcomed as a child of God through faith in Jesus. In recording Zacchaeus’ story, Luke emphasizes again the all-encompassing reach of Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

While Zacchaeus’ wealth may have given the appearance of satisfaction, Zacchaeus was just as hungry for wholeness as the children Jesus blessed and the woman who had no advocate in Luke 18. Just as Jesus wasn’t fooled by facades, neither should we, His ambassadors, buy the lie that others don’t need, or deserve to hear, the hope and forgiveness of Christ.

Hurting people are everywhere around us, in our families, neighborhoods, churches, and businesses. Masks hide the brokenness and pain as we work to appear normal, satisfied, and self-sufficient.

To share the hope of Jesus, we must drop the facade of pretending, choose authentic humility and generous service to others, then walk in transparency as we point to Jesus. When we remember we are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s glory and need His rescue and forgiveness, it becomes easier to extend His kindness. (Romans 3:23)

Our gentle words and acts of kindness are a beacon of hope as we point all types of people to the God who offers forgiveness in whole to all!

The Original Intent

2) Why was Zacchaeus considered “sinful”? (verse 7)

Zacchaeus was a Jewish name and Jesus calls him a “son of Abraham” (verse 9), signaling his Jewish descent. This is significant as it shows his own people despised him, discounting him as redeemable. Not only was he a thief, breaking the eighth commandment (Exodus 20:15), he also collaborated with the Romans who oppressed the Jews at every turn. No doubt, Zacchaeus was a sinner through and through.

Zacchaeus was incredibly unlikely to garnish the favorable attention of Jesus. He was spurned by the Romans because he was Jewish. He was rejected by the Jews for his dishonesty and partnership with the Romans. Jesus’ onlookers, including His disciples, scoffed and pulled back in disgust as Jesus approached this “sinner”. (verse 7)

Jesus, however, saw the sinner and called him by name. No Jew would have befriended Zacchaeus. No one, that is, except Jesus, the friend of sinners. (Matthew 11:19) The God who chose to give His life as a ransom for many, to buy back the sinners from the deadly grip of their sin and its consequence, took the payment for our sin in His own body as He died in our place. (Matthew 20:28, Matthew 26:28) Even as sinful humanity rebelled against Him, Jesus chose death for them, for us, for you and me. (Romans 5:8)

His invitation of kindness in the midst of our sinful state reminds me of the Old Testament prophet, Zephaniah, who sang of the kind character of the Lord, even in the midst of Israel’s suffering for their sin, “The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in His love. He will delight in you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

The Everyday Application

2) Why was Zacchaeus considered “sinful”? (verse 7)

The story of Zacchaeus overflows with proof of Jesus’ love for the unlovely. Brandon Lake sings of this radical love in “Greater Still”:
“How deep, how wide;
How far, how high;
The love of my Savior, the love of Christ.”
(See more in Romans 8:38-39)

Jesus didn’t stand at the Sycamore and preach a sermon, He invited Zacchaeus to share a meal and experience God’s love for himself. Jesus would confront sin in Zacchaeus while holding wide the door to freedom from that sin through humble faith. Zacchaeus would walk away from the table a new man and Jesus would leave the table having adopted a newly birthed child of God!

As we attempt to reach people with the gospel, we can miss opportunities to share Jesus’ love because we are too fearful of offending or anxious about what to say. Where does that fear and doubt come from? Surely not the Christ who called aloud to Zacchaeus and invited Himself to dinner! These fears come from the father of fear and lies, Satan. (John 8:44, 1 John 4:18)

We have been given victory over fear through PRAYER and PRAISE! (Philippians 4:6-7) As we focus on Jesus, He gives us peace and confidence to keep following Him, letting His light shine. When we love with hospitality, speak kind words, respond in gentleness, and even invite others to our dinner table, Jesus’ love will be evidenced.

We won’t need to worry about what to say if we are saturating ourselves in His Word, for His love will naturally flow from us.

Put on the full armor of God in your everyday life, choose prayer and praise over fear and shaming lies. Others may scoff, but trust the One who invited us, a sinner, to feast with Him and determine to make Christ known!

The Original Intent

3) Why did Zacchaeus have a change of heart and how was that shift evidenced? (verses 8-9) 

Zacchaeus was wealthy, but he wasn’t happy. He was despised and hated by people because of his “legalized” stealing. Zacchaeus didn’t care about people, much less love them; neither did they care about him. Being despised and hated was a horrible, isolating, way to live. Zacchaeus was desperate even for a single friend; his desperation drew him to Jesus.

When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus, a friend of sinners and tax collectors (Matthew 11:19), was passing by, he was determined to see Jesus. Despised and hated by men, Zacchaeus was reaching for the love of God. Jesus was also on a mission to “seek and save the lost”, which described Zacchaeus perfectly. (verse 10)

Jesus purposely called Zacchaeus down from the tree, winsomely inviting Himself to his home. When Zacchaeus came face to face with Jesus, the very presence of God, his heart softened. Possessions had never satisfied and people had never loved him well, but Jesus offered something no one else could: forgiveness.

Zacchaeus knew he was wrong, and he chose humble confession of his sin. He came in faith, dropped his sin, and was welcomed as a son while sitting at his own dinner table and caught in his messed-up broken life.

Jesus died to make a way for every sinner to come and eat with Him. We can’t gain access to God with large bank accounts or mountains of good deeds, only by humbly realizing we are spiritually bankrupt apart from Him. When we come in humility and repentance, like Zacchaeus, Jesus brings us home by His grace.

Zacchaeus proved his genuine faith by generously loving the people who despised him, the ones he had mistreated. So are we called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to generously serve those God has placed in our lives.

The Everyday Application

3) Why did Zacchaeus have a change of heart and how was that shift evidenced? (verses 8-9) 

Zacchaeus was indeed a sinner, but so were Jesus’ disciples, everyone in the crowds who followed Him, you reading these words, and me as I write them. All of us rightly deserve the label, “Sinner Far From God”.

But Christ came near to Zacchaeus even in his sin. Zacchaeus didn’t clean up his life before Jesus came to dinner; his change came after his encounter with the living God!

Zacchaeus brought sin. Jesus brought forgiveness, new life, and an invitation to something rich and deep, fellowship with God. These gifts can’t be bought or earned, only enjoyed when given and received.

When Zacchaeus received Jesus’ gift of forgiveness and friendship, it so filled him up that he was free to give himself and his wealth away to the ones he had sinned against.

Zacchaeus responded in truth and honesty to Jesus’ offer of wholeness by admitting his sin and turning away from it. His outward actions of humble generosity proved an inward change. (Galatians 5:22-26)

As followers of Christ, our outward lives will prove the authenticity of genuine faith. If we reject living like Jesus on the outside, it may be that our insides were never truly changed by Jesus. Choose today to respond to Jesus’ invitation by confessing your sin and accepting His forgiveness to make you whole!

Christ can’t be fooled by lip service. Words of confession that don’t stem from changed hearts are utterly worthless unless they are backed by actions that prove sincerity. It’s not a mere change of words that Jesus brings, but a changed life!

Jesus’ loving kindness forever changed Zacchaeus. We don’t know who the Lord will bring across our path, but we do know we are called to love them like Jesus. Our simple acts of kindness may be what God uses to bring them salvation!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tags :
Share This :

Can We Pray With You?

Prayer is central to our ministry as believers in Jesus as we carry eachother’s burdens and intercede for one another. Our team is honored to share the work of praying alongside you!

This Week's Lock Screen
April 15 - May 3, 2024 - Journey Theme #131

Authentically living out a life of worship to the God who rescued us from darkness requires accountability and intentionality. Join a GT POD and take the next step in your faith journey!

Like this:

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x