Zacchaeus, a tax collector, was considered to be a traitor and cheater, along with all the other tax collectors. The crowd questioned Jesus’ association with Zacchaeus, as revealed in Luke 19:1-10. You will notice a change in Zacchaeus, who promised to give to the poor and to repay those he had defrauded.
Jesus must have caused an excitement in the air when he came to Jericho. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus walked among the people, touching and speaking with many of them. The great impact occurred as he stood under the sycamore tree and saw the wee little Zacchaeus hiding in its branches and observing the procession down below. As Jesus called him out of the tree, the encounter was obviously life-changing for Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus had a God-shaped void in his life and had tried to fill it with many things. To become a tax collector for the Romans, he had given up his Jewish heritage, thus he became an outcast.
The search for meaning, a search for God, had taken Zacchaeus from power and the position of a Roman government official to a sycamore tree in the streets of Jericho, where the Savior found him and gave him the gift of salvation. The truth of the matter is that God is always offering his prevenient grace, if we will only place ourselves in a position to receive his forgiving grace, as Zacchaeus did. God is seeking us, but God’s offering is a two-way street. God is offering his justifying grace and forgiveness, if we will only accept his grace.
Since we were thrust out of the Garden of Eden in the opening pages of Genesis, God has been coming to his people. He came to Abraham in the city of Ur; he came to Isaiah in the Temple; he came to Amos in the hills of Tekoa; he came to Hosea in the tragedy of his marital situation; and has come to all of us in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is clearly God seeking man, for Jesus Christ was completely God and completely man simultaneously. God became human so he could communicate with humankind.
When Jesus was on the cross, he fiercely reached back into history and pulled all the sins that had ever been committed onto himself, and he reached forward into pulled in all the sins that ever would be committed. Then he spiritually took the hand of God, and he took the hand of humanity, and pulled God and humans together for the first time. Jesus Christ is God seeking humans. Zacchaeus quickly corrected his relationship with the people: “Half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much (v.8). This was the immediate response on the part of Zacchaeus. When we have answered God’s call, we quickly move to make all relationships correct.