A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Zacchaeus

Definition

ZacchaeusIn Jericho, there was a chief tax-collector called Zacchaeus. He worked for the Roman army so was unpopular with his Jewish countrymen. He heard about Jesus and wanted to see him for himself.

So when he found out Jesus was in town, he joined the people milling around him. But there was a problem: Zacchaeus was not very tall and, try as he might, he could not see Jesus above the heads of the crowd. So he climbed a tree by the side of the road.

But when Jesus came, he stopped, looked up and said,

‘Come down Zacchaeus! I am coming to your house!’

The tax-collector scrambled down and gladly took Jesus to his house.

The people around were not so glad. They said,

‘Jesus is going to be the guest of a sinner!’ 

Then Zacchaeus said,

‘Lord, right now I am giving to the poor half of all I own, and I promise to pay back four times over any money I have obtained dishonestly!’

People were amazed. This man was rich because of the extra tax he had taken from them – and he was offering to pay back more than the Jewish law demanded! 

Jesus said that he had come to find and save the people who were not yet living as God wanted them to.

The story illustrates:

  • The Christian belief in repentance
  • Jesus’ acceptance and love of the people whom society excluded.

Bible References

Luke 19:1-10
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