For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
In the middle of the crowd at a motorcycle demonstration where riders performed breathtaking tricks, I found myself needing to stand on my tiptoes to see. Glancing around, I noticed three children perched in a nearby tree, apparently because they also couldn’t get to the front of the crowd to see the action.
Watching the kids peer out from their lofty location, I couldn’t help but think of Zacchaeus,who Luke identifies as a wealthy tax collector(Luke 19:2).Jews often viewed tax collectors as traitors for working for the Roman government collecting taxes from fellow Israelites, as well as frequently demanding additional money to pad their personal bank accounts. So Zacchaeus was likely shunned from his community.
As Jesus passed through Jericho, Zacchaeus longed to see Him but was unable to see over the crowd. So, perhaps feeling both desperate and lonely, he climbed into a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse (vv. 3–4). And it was there, on the outskirts of the crowd, that Jesus searched him out and announced His intention to be a guest at his home (v. 5).
Zacchaeus’ story reminds us that Jesus came to “seek and to save the lost,” offering His friendship and the gift of salvation(vv. 9–10). Even if we feel on the edges of our communities, pushed to the “back of the crowd,” we can be assured that, even there, Jesus finds us.
191 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
How have you experienced feelings of being pushed aside by friends or family?
In the midst of loneliness, how has Jesus found you and invited you to spend time with Him?
Jericho, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, is located in the Jordan Valley with the Jordan River to the east and Jerusalem to the west. In the Old Testament, it’s referred to as the “City of Palms” (Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 3:13). It’s best known as the first city taken by the invading Israelites (Joshua 2, 6). After its conquest, Joshua placed a curse on anyone who might rebuild it (6:26). About 500 years later, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt the city at the cost of his two sons (1 Kings 16:34), a fulfillment of this curse.
The story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10) takes place in New Testament Jericho, also known as Herodian Jericho. This site was built by King Herod more than a mile south of the Old Testament site. Modern-day Jericho is built on a site about a mile east of Herodian Jericho.
Jesus, thank You for never simply walking by when I’m hurting but stopping to invite me into friendship with You. In your name, I pray. Amen!!