The Story of Zacchae'us the Chief Tax Collector
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.
As Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through, there was a man named Zacchae'us who was a chief tax collector and rich. He wanted to see Jesus but couldn’t on account of the crowd because he was a dwarf. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the tree, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchae'us, come down quickly because I’m going to stay at your house today.” So he quickly climbed down, and happily received him. And when the crowd saw these they all murmured, "Jesus has gone in to be the guest of a sinful man." And Zacchae'us stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I’ll give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I’ll repay it four times over." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house… for the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:1-10)
In Jesus’ time, tax collectors were despised and treated as outcasts because they typically over-charged people and dishonestly accumulated great wealth at the expense of others. Zacchae'us, as a chief tax collector, was especially despised by his fellow Jews for compromising his principles and collaborating with Rome (the enemy of the Jewish people). Zacchae’us had been anything but honest and ethical. But he repented and subsequently was saved.
I think Zacchae'us epitomized the Profit-at-any-price attitude of many people and businesses today. They’ll do anything: lie, cheat, steal, and sacrifice their souls just to get ahead. Zacchae'us too didn’t earn his wealth honestly and ethically. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with earning money (even great wealth) as long as it’s done in an honest and ethical manner. So when Zacchae'us repented, he promised to make restitution for his sins by giving half of his wealth to the poor and repaying anyone he cheated four-times over. This probably left Zacchae'us a poor man. But in a spiritual sense, Zacchae'us actually became even wealthier by gaining a share in the Kingdom of God. He lost his life in order to find it again.