Our lesson this week is about a man named Zacchaeus. You may have studied about in Sunday School already. It is from the Bible in the book of Luke, Chapter 19, and Verses 1-9. The easy read version of the Bible tells the story like this.
Jesus was going through the city of Jericho. In Jericho there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a wealthy, very important tax collector. He wanted to see who Jesus was. There were many others who wanted to see Jesus too. Zacchaeus was too short to see above the people. So he ran to a place where he knew Jesus would come. Then he climbed a sycamore tree, so he could see him. When Jesus came to where Zacchaeus was, He looked up and saw him in the tree. Jesus said, “Zacchaeus hurry! Come down! I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus hurried and came down. He was happy to have Jesus in his house. Everyone saw this. They began to complain, “Look at the kind of man Jesus is staying with. Zacchaeus is a sinner!” Zacchaeus said to the Lord, “I want to do good. I will give half of my money to the poor. If I have cheated anyone, I will pay them back four times more.” Jesus said, “Today is the day for this family to be saved from sin. Yes, even this tax collector is one of God’s chosen people.
We are told that Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Tax collectors were hated by the people because they would collect more money that the people owed, and they kept the extra money for themselves. The people called them sinners because of their cheating, but you’ll notice that Jesus not only spoke to Zacchaeus, He went to his house to eat lunch with him! The people were amazed. You know what else was amazing though? Zacchaeus promised to pay back the money he had stolen four times over and give half of the rest of his money to help poor people!
Why would all of a sudden Zacchaeus have such a change of heart? I think it was because Jesus changed his heart at that moment. Zacchaeus was sorry for what he had done, confessed his sins, and tried to make things right. Jesus changes our hearts as well when we accept Him. We want to do good and help others because Jesus loves and helps us. Jesus will always change us for the better if we let Him – just like Zacchaeus!
Let’s pray. Jesus, thank You for stories like these that remind us of what a wonderful Savior You are and how You can change even the most difficult lives and circumstances into something wonderful. Help us to accept You into our hearts, so our lives can be changed and made wonderful too. In Your name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.