There was a man called Zaccheus in the land of Israel. He was a tax-collector. The tax collectors used to attend auctions run by the Roman Government (in Caesar’s court) of those days, pay an amount for a period of time, like a year and then get the authority to collect tax from all the public for a particular area or a particular profession. The bidding used to be heavy and competitive with the starting sum being multiplied a few times by the time each subject area was completed and the rights would go to the highest bidder.
Zaccheus was a chief tax-collector who had others working under him. He was a very rich man and had made a lot of money from his business. But, the tax collectors were despised by the people from whom they collected tax. The Jews resented the rule of Rome and the people appointed by Rome, particularly to collect tax from them. The tax collectors were known rogues who cheated and robbed poor and needy people. Zaccheus was in a similar situation (though he himself may not be such a person as becomes clear later). All the people despised him. When he used to go to the synagogue, the dislike was obvious. They used to push him aside, make him sit in a corner. “Hay tax collector move!” You have given your allegiance to Rome, this is gone too far and you are a thief and a cheat. Zaccheus was looking for a place for away to change since this was his profession, but people did not like him. He knew that what they were speaking was right. He was not a good man, but had sometimes robbed and cheated tax-payers, more so they were his own community. And he was very well to do.
He came to know about Jesus. Jesus had come to bless people. Jesus used to share about love and kindness and patience and forgiveness and not to rob other people. He used to say that if a man looks at a woman to desire after her, he has already committed adultery. If someone has desired/craved for/coveted somebody else’s things or somebody else’s wife, he has already sinned! He is equal to a robber and an adulterer and rapist. But, Jesus also went around helping people, blessing people. He was able to heal those who were sick. He used to lay hands on any number of people and they used to recover. The blind received sight, the fever was driven away, the bleeding was stopped, people with bent backs could stand straight. He used to drive out evil spirits also from those who were in bondage, enslaved, held captive and physically and mentally controlled by them.. Evil spirits used to enter a person and make him do unnatural, bad things. He used to drive out those evil spirits with a word. He used to pronounce people healed from a good distance. He was known to feed a number of thousands from a plate of food like 5 home made loaves of bread and 2 pieces of fish and this had happened more than once.
So, one day, Zaccheus heard that Jesus is coming to his town. He wanted to see Jesus if perhaps he can help him get out of this difficult way of life which he was living, with a bad reputation. He was looking for a way out. The pharisees and scribes who used to teach in the temple and the synagogue never helped him, they only despised him. He was looking for someone who would be kind, who would show him the way out so that he could change. So when he heard that Jesus had come to his town, he was very eager to see him. So he went, but there was a crowd around him and he could not see Jesus and he was very short. He could not go through the crowd, the crowd would also not let him, come close to Jesus. So he ran ahead of the crowd and got into a tree, a small tree and was sitting there waiting because Jesus was going to pass that way. Sure enough, Jesus came and he could see him. He could see the kindness on his face, the graciousness, the firmness coupled with the kindness. He could see it and he was feeling very happy. He had seen a good person. Wish he will bless me also in some way. So I can lead a good happy life as I am in need. He remembers that he is ill-treated wherever he goes and people, including religious leaders are not willing to even speak to him saying first give up your tax collector business and set right your life, which meant go and work somewhere and submit to your new boss and accept the (paltry) salary they will give since you are a worthless person.
Jesus arrives under the tree. And then Jesus is looking up at him. He calls him, “Zaccheus come down, I must come & stay at your house today.” Zaccheus can’t believe his ears. Jesus wants to come to my house. This is the greatest news I have ever heard. He came down quickly, welcomed him, welcome, welcome. And then he realised what sort of person he was. He knows also that it is not just an allegation that people are making that he is a cheat and greedy. He has done such things, such niceties as making exact tax calculations, reducing or cancelling the tax where the person was poor and could not pay. I am over-charging and fearing God and being kind to poor and needy people and helping them, such things are not even in my dictionary. Where he has seen a way to exact penalties, he has shown no mercy or considered the financial state of the tax-payer, but collected the maximum.
He had an immediate change of heart. He wept (on the inside) for the way he had lived and decided, on the spot, to set right his life. He told Jesus, right there on the spot, in front of the people who despised him, “Lord I give half my wealth to the poor and, if I have cheated anybody or collected more than the actual dues (like penalties collected making an excuse), I will restore four times the money.”
Everyone’s eyes opened wide. Never a man like him that I have seen who knew the right thing to do and was whole-hearted in my eyes who really sought God’s favour on his side again. I believe the Holy Spirit came, helped him make the decision. It was a hard decision, but he made it on the spot.
So, when the Spirit comes, this is the way things happen. From a curse, become a blessing. From a greedy man, become a gracious man. From a blood-sucker, become a healer. The mess in your life becomes a message of comfort and stability. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him. Of course, Jesus was delighted to hear it and He said, today salvation has come to Zaccheus and his house for he too is a son of Abraham. Zaccheus has been saved from his sinful life. Zaccheus has been truly liberated (from being worried about the opinions of people, fearing people instead of God, and from love of money and other sins). For the Son of Man (son of Adam), referring to Himself, has come to seek and save those who are lost (in sin, in fear, in depression and other harm that they suffer spiritually, mentally and materially, any kind of poverty), here the purpose of my coming has been fulfilled. Jesus is very happy. In one minute the change came, Jesus did not have to speak anything. In a minute, Zaccheus knew, this is what I must do, then things will change.
Here is a reproduction of the Holy Bible from where this message has been taken.
And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.  And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.  And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.  And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.  And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
What is the meaning of this? Abraham was the fore-father of the Jews, he was a friend of God. He trusted God. He paid a heavy price, leaving his country to follow the Lord where He led him. By faith, at age 100, he had a son, by his wife was aged about 90 and barren, called him Isaac. The Lord had promised many things to Abraham. He had renamed him, from Big Father to Father of Many Nations and He had promised him that you will be the father of many nations and have a large progeny. But the Lord tested Abraham also. Once, when Isaac had grown and become a young man, God told him, “Take your son, Isaac, whom you love and sacrifice him to Me.“ He took his son, tied him 2 days journey to the place designated, built an altar and tied Isaac to the altar. See also the amazing thing, Isaac also trusts his father and allows him to do this, without resisting. Then Abraham took the knife to kill him. The Lord called out from heaven, “No need to go further, now I know that you fear God and you are willing to give anything for Him.” Of course, Abraham expected that if he sacrifices his son, because God had said that it is through Isaac that your descendants will be called, so he expected Isaac to rise up from the dead! So, Jesus said that this Zaccheus is the son of Abraham, who has the faith of Abraham and the spirit of Abraham. He will do anything to please the Lord. And he believed in the Lord for everything.
So I am presenting Zaccheus to you. The man who became rich in the real sense. A blessing.
Speaking for myself, I am always happy when I remember this story. Many people cheat on tax payment and tax collection. Many keep false accounts. They meditate day and night, how to have more money and comfort even though they may be doing wrong in the way they go about it.
Many people go after women. Many women also fall in this way with men. Many people hate and are enemies of others for money, hatred towards other communities and many other bad things. Jesus has come to save us from all these things.
Jesus Christ has given His life for us on the cross. There, Jesus took the death penalty for sinners, which we richly deserve ourselves. Every sinner is going to be given the divine punishment of death. The Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for us on the cross. Jesus never sinned, so He could be the sacrifice for our sins (as He was never under the death penalty Himself) and He did this for us so that God’s blessing can come upon us. So whoever accepts His sacrifice as given for me and accepts Jesus as Saviour and Lord, turns away from his/her sinful way of life, the Lord Jesus Christ will forgive all their sins, because He has shed His own blood on the cross for our sins.
This is not the only thing. There is more. After three days, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Now it is almost 2000 years later, Jeus Christ is in heaven and is praying for His own, He is helping them and blessing them. He hears our prayers and acts, though sometimes He may not answer how we want it, but it is always for our good.
Whoever comes to Jesus Christ, He will do everything that they need. Whatever their need-spiritual, mental, material, physical. We will have Jesus in this way and we will be God’s children. All these blessings come to us if we receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. So come and like Zaccheus and Michal (I put the story of Michal earlier-Here is Living Water), put your faith in Jesus, so things will work out for you as well.
Jesus has not come to give a religion. Jesus has come, according to His own words, to give life-life in abundance, a blessed life.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
And He has promised the Spirit to those who follow Him, believing in Him. The Spirit will come to you and be inside you. He will show you what Jesus is like in different situations and help you follow Him. He will “shed abroad God’s Love in your heart” and give you an assurance that you are a Child of God, just as Jesus is the Son of God. You will be declared a child of God the moment you receive Jesus as your Saviour and Lord and decide to follow Him, giving up that old, sinful way of life. I want to welcome you, Come to Jesus and receive all the blessings which He wants to give to you. You will live under an open heaven. God will be your Father, Jesus will be your elder brother and your high priest and your example and He will bless you. Come to Jesus.
If you have not yet received Jesus into your life, kneel and pray this simple prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner who deserves the death penalty. Thank you that you have paid the penalty for me on the cross, in your tremendous love and mercy upon me. Please forgive my sins, I accept you as the One who died for my sins, my Saviour and my Lord. Please come into my life. I want to put away the old sinful way of life that I have been living and follow you. Please give my your Holy Spirit. Thank you, I am now a Child of God and you love me. Your Father is my Father also and Thank You Holy Spirit that you will come and be with me. Amen.
We will be praying for you. You can contact me on this email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org