Zacchaeus was a tax collector who got rich by making others pay lots of taxes. When Zacchaeus heard Jesus was in town, he wanted to see Him. But Zacchaeus was short, and Jesus was always surrounded by a crowd. So Zacchaeus decided to run ahead of the crowd and climb a sycamore tree. From there he could watch for Jesus. He watched as Jesus drew closer. He held his breath when Jesus stopped right beneath his tree. Then Jesus looked straight up at him!
"Zacchaeus," said Jesus with a smile, "come on down. I want to stay at your house today!"
Zacchaeus hopped down. "You are welcome at my house, Jesus," said the little man with a big smile.
But others grumbled, muttering to each other. "Why does Jesus want to go home with a sinner?"
Zacchaeus turned to Jesus and said, "Look, Lord. Here and now, I promise to give half of my money to the poor. If I have cheated anyone in taxes, I will pay them back four times that amount."
"Salvation comes to Zacchaeus's house today!" announced Jesus. "For I have come to look for and to sale those who are lost."
The Effects of Real Faith
Zacchaeus probably became rich by cheating people, something tax collectors were known for in those days. But Zacchaeus met Jesus, and he became a new man. He had faith in Jesus' power and love.
Zacchaeus promised to pay back - even more than he had taken - those he had cheated. But the crowd didn't like this. They needed new hearts too, but they didn't realize it.
Real faith is not a matter of simply believing in and loving Jesus. It involves turning from old ways that go against God's commands and starting a new life. Real faith acts to make things right again.