The word had fast circulated around Jericho that Jesus was approaching the village. People were already lined up on both sides of the dusty road.
In the midst of this throng of people was a certain short man who tried to get within sight of the road. He wanted to see Jesus, but the crowd would not let him through.
It was then that he sighted a sycamore tree and climbed up to see. While he watched Jesus passing the place, he received a surprising message. “‘Zaccheus make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.’ He received him joyfully.” (Luke 19:5-6)
Scripture does not relate what the situation was or the reason that created in Zaccheus a need to see Jesus, only that ‘He was chief among the Publicans, and he was rich.” (Luke 19:2) Publicans were tax collectors for the Romans, and had notorious reputations, since the system was open to abuse, and extortion was common.
It could be that he had heard of the invitation of Jesus, of which Mark relates, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.’” (Mark 1:14-15)
Certainly, he would have heard of the miracles that Jesus had done. Whatever the reason, the manner by which Zaccheus went about trying to see Jesus showed that he had a need.
The invitation from the kingdom of God is heard even today. God can stop a person, before His invitation, in many ways for example, difficulties in relationships with close ones, economic difficulties, loss of health, or some other situations in life. Often the question arises, “Are matters well with me?”
The sermon from the kingdom of God also contains loving rebuke about sin. Unforgiven sins oppress; one feels bad. The salt smarts in the wounds. A prayer arises from the heart.
Zaccheus felt guilt over his misdeeds, “Behold, Lord, take half of my goods and give them to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)
When God awakens a person, He does not wish to leave anyone in that condition. God’s desire is to forgive all of one’s sins.
The invitation from the kingdom of God continues to contain the gospel as most important, the forgiveness of sins. It removes all burdens and sin. Life receives a new direction.
Jesus said unto Zaccheus, “This day is salvation come to this house . . . for the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10)
Zaccheus received the forgiveness of his sins and joy into his heart. Dear neighbor, Jesus still does this work in our midst, through His Holy Spirit. The loving call is still heard; simply believe the gospel message.