One of the best-loved stories in the Bible is the story of one of the most hated men of his day – Zaccheus. He was a tax collector – under the Roman law there were certain Jews who worked under the Roman government and regarded as traitors, renegades, and thieves. A tax collector would charge any fee he wanted as long as the Roman government got their rightful share. This system made usury, graft, and corruption a way of life.
Zaccheus had reached the top of his profession and also had become the most hated man in the district. No one in their right mind that day would have ever imagined that Jesus would have become a guest at Zaccheus’ house. The last place they expected him to be entertained was in the home of this rich, evil, greedy person.
Little did Zaccheus dream, when he closed his toll booth that day and set out to take a look at Jesus that he was not only going to see him, but was actually was going to have him as a guest. It would never have occurred to him that this amazing man was coming to Jericho especially to find him and to enlist him in his kingdom. No one expected Zaccheus to ever become a Christian, but especially Zaccheus himself. Zaccheus was searching. He was lonely, and outcast, despised and hated by so many. He was small and I can only imagine that he had been called all types of names as a child and a teenager growing up.
Zaccheus was searching for something deeper in his life. Like so many he had God substitutes filling the void in his life. Pascal once said that we are all born with a God-shaped vacuum in our lives. And this vacuum can only be filled with God. But we are constantly trying to find God substitutes to place in that void in our lives. When Zaccheus climbed that sycamore tree he was hurting and searching for meaning in life. And when Jesus Christ met Zaccheus his life was never the same. He experienced the real thing. His conversion was so genuine that he decided to give half of his goods to the poor and restore four-fold to anyone that he had stolen from. He went far beyond the legal requirement of restitution prescribed in the Old Testament law. He was determined to do more than the law demanded. He showed by his deeds he was a changed man.
Our testimony is worthless until it is backed by deeds which guarantee its sincerity and genuineness. It is not a mere change of words which Jesus demands, but a change of life. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Welcome Jesus and then get ready. You are going to have some of the most marvelous experiences that you have ever had in your lifetime. When he comes in he makes major changes so that you can experience the abundant life both here and in the future.
See you Sunday in church!