Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Jesus and those with him passed through Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. Living in Jericho was a man named Zacchaeus who was the chief publican in that city. Publicans were the tax collectors for the Romans and so were despised by all Jews. They viewed publicans as traitors. Since Zacchaeus was "chief among the publicans" we can assume that he was very wealthy. Zacchaeus had obviously heard about Jesus and really wanted to see him. It had only been a few months earlier when Jesus healed a crippled woman in Jericho and Zacchaeus would have certainly heard about that and maybe even witnessed it himself. Zacchaeus went to meet Jesus as he and those with him entered the city but the crowd was large and Zacchaeus was just a short man so he had no hope of getting close. Zacchaeus then noticed a large Sycamore tree along side the road and he decided to climb the tree in hopes of getting a better view of the Lord. As Jesus neared the tree he looked up at Zacchaeus and asked him to come down because he and his disciples would be dining with him that night. Zacchaeus was thrilled and gladly welcomed Jesus into his home. The crowd was angry that Jesus would choose to eat with a sinner such as Zacchaeus and when Zacchaeus heard this he quickly responded that he would give half of his wealth to the poor. This was in stark contrast to the rich young man who was unable to make a similar commitment so shortly before.