Told from Zacchaeus’ point of view:
The day started like any other day. I woke up, bathed, dressed, and went to work. I was well known in Jericho as a tax collector taking money from people for their houses, livestock and earnings. I even stole money from people especially the poor. I demanded they gave me what they owed and then more.
Not only was I a tax collector, I was a thief. I honestly did not like myself. I had a lot of money, but I did not have any friends. No one liked me. I felt like an outcast. I was lonely inside.
Yesterday I heard about this man Jesus who went around healing people. I wanted to meet him just to see what he was like. I heard stories that he was kind, gentle, and compassionate. I also heard he talked to people who others shunned.
This man Jesus was heading towards my town, Jericho. I decided to leave work to him. I walked into town. However, I had one huge problem, there was no way I would be able to see him through the crowds of people. I am a short man. All I could see was the backs of the people in front of me.
I kept trying to push my way through. Anxiety overwhelmed me. My palms became sweaty and my heart was racing. I really wanted to see Jesus, but at this rate, there was no chance.
I needed to think of how I could at least get a glimpse of him. As I was pushing my way through, I saw a sycamore tree.
“Aha!” I thought to myself. “I could climb the tree to get a better view.”
As I began to climb up slowly, one of the branches snapped and I lost my balance. I took a deep breath, looked up the tree and found a place to regain my grip. I climbed further up. At last I found a great viewing spot. I could see a crowd of people swarming below.
I had no idea what Jesus looked like, so I was really trying to pick a needle out of a haystack. I waited for what seemed like an eternity.
I thought I must have been hearing things. No one would be looking for me. As I told you before, I was not liked by anyone. I heard the voice again…
I looked down to see who was calling my name. The man was just an ordinary Jew looking up at me.
“Surely this isn’t Jesus,” I thought, “He just looks so, well, rather boring. I thought he would look spectacular or have a glow around him.”
“Zacchaeus!” the man called out again, “Come down from the tree. I am coming to your house today.”
My heart began pounding inside. “This had to be Jesus. He knew my name. But, who told him? And, oh my, he’s coming to my house! I didn’t pick up my laundry or make my bed! The dishes were still in the sink.” My thoughts were going into overdrive. “And, I left some money out on the table last night. What was Jesus going to think?”
Nervously I climbed back down the tree. When I stood next to Jesus, something happened inside. I had a peace and a joy I had never felt before. I was honoured and yet humbled that Jesus picked me to visit.
The crowds allowed Jesus and I to pass through. We talked on the way to my house. Yet there were people around us grumbling because they didn’t understand why Jesus chose to visit me. They were grumbling saying he shouldn’t enter my house because I was a sinner.
Yes, I was a sinner. I hurt God. I stole from others. I mistreated the poor. In the presence of Jesus, I was truly undone inside. I was terribly sorry for all the wrong I had caused to others.
I confessed my sins to Jesus and promised that I will restore the money I stole from people and I would give back four times the amount. I also said I would give half of my belongings to the poor. I didn’t need it anyway. I had more than enough money to live on.
After I confessed, Jesus said to those around me, “Salvation has come to this house. For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
I then understood why Jesus came to visit me. I truly was lost. But, praise be to God, that very day, Jesus forgave me. He made me a new person. I felt clean inside. I felt good for a change.
Jesus and I enjoyed a good meal of fish, vegetables, and challah bread. Surprisingly he wasn’t bothered about the mess in my house. He was more interested in me.
My friends, Jesus loves everyone! He loves you no matter your stature, position, colour, nationality, tribe, and abilities. Jesus makes outcasts into royalty when they accept him as their Lord and Saviour. Jesus welcomes those the world hates.
My life was dramatically changed. I did exactly what I promised Jesus. I was no longer an outcast. I was freed from sin. I became a friend of God. I became royalty, a child of the King of kings. My eternity will be in heaven with Jesus. Praise the Lord!