I have to join in your search and rescue

Luke 19:1 ¶And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernisation. Zacchaeus was a superintendent of customs; a chief tax-gather (publicanus) at Jericho. "The collection of customs at Jericho, which at this time produced and exported a considerable quantity of balsam, was undoubtedly an important post, and would account for Zacchaeus being a rich man." Being a short man, he arrived before the crowd who were later to meet with Jesus as he passed through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. The tax collector climbed up a sycamore (Fig) tree so that he might be able to see him. When Christ reached the spot he looked up into the branches, addressed Zacchaeus by name, and told him to come down. Jesus told the man, who was a hated tax collector, that he intended to visit his house. The crowd was shocked that Christ would sully himself by being a guest of a tax collector. This led to the remarkable interview recorded by the evangelist, and to the striking parable of the ten pounds (Luke 19:12-27). At Er-riha (Jericho) there is a large, venerable looking square tower, which goes by the traditional name of the House of Zacchaeus. Balsam (pronounced balm) is a term used for various pleasantly scented plant products

Exposition
This final event in Luke's long section detailing Jesus' ministry on the road to Jerusalem ends with the story of Zacchaeus. It sums up several of the themes that Luke has developed, including who may become disciples and how discipleship should affect their lives. It concludes with Jesus the Great Shepherd, seeking and saving the lost.

Passing through Jericho (19:1)
"Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through." (19:1) Jesus has no plans to stay in Jericho. But it lies on the way to his final destination -Jerusalem. The words "passing through" translate the Greek word dierchomai, "go or travel through."[1]

Zacchaeus, the Wealthy Tax Collector (19:2-4)
Luke, the storyteller, first introduces the chief character, Zacchaeus, and then goes back to Jesus who is entering the city. This quick shift of scenes helps the reader get acquainted with Zacchaeus so that the full significance of the story is appreciated at its climax.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. (19:2-4)
We meet a small man, too short to see over the crowd. His name is Zacchaeus, an abbreviation of Zechariah, meaning "the righteous one"[2] -- a big name to live up to. The name is out of place for Zacchaeus, since he is the chief tax collector in Jericho, and tax collectors were notorious for cheating the general public to fatten their pockets. They would assess a tax, and if the person refused to pay or called it unfair, Herod's soldiers would threaten him. Regions of a kingdom would be divided up into districts, and a tax collector would become responsible for collecting a certain amount of tax and passing it up the chain to the government. Whatever he collected over the amount required was his to keep. A chief tax collector would employ tax collectors under him to collect taxes in various parts of the district. As chief tax collector, Zacchaeus is probably was responsible for collecting tolls on goods coming into Judea from Perea[3], a main trade route. This business has made him rich. The word for "wealthy" is Greek plousios, "pertaining to having an abundance of earthly possessions that exceeds normal experience, 'rich, wealthy.' "[4] But despite his riches, or perhaps because of them, Zacchaeus is hated by the people. They see him as a crook and a traitor, who works as a spy for the Roman oppressors in order to take their money and give it to the occupation government, and on to Rome. Zacchaeus is short, wealthy, and hated. But he is also curious. He hears that Jesus is coming through town and is determined to see him. The word "sought" is Greek zeteo, "to devote serious effort to realize one's desire or objective, 'strive for, aim (at) try to obtain, desire, wish (for).' "[5] One evidence of his earnestness and purpose is the fact that he runs ahead to where he knows Jesus will pass. The words "ran ahead" translate Greek protrecho, "outrun, run on ahead."[6] He finds a large tree, and therein establishes a reconnaissance outpost where he will be able to see Jesus without attracting unwanted attention. The sycamore-fig tree (Ficus sycomorus) is a robust evergreen tree that grows to about 40 feet (12 meters) high, with branches spreading in every direction. Their many branches make them easy to

climb.[7] It is springtime, and new leaves have appeared among the old foliage on the tree. Zacchaeus is ready.

Jesus Invites Himself to Dinner (19:5-6)
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. (19:5-6)
I am always fascinated when I read this. Jesus is walking along, mobbed by townspeople. But all of a sudden he looks up and sees Zacchaeus in the tree above him and stops. Does he know he'll find Zacchaeus in the tree that day? We don't know. It wouldn't surprise me. And more remarkable, he calls Zacchaeus by name. Does he know Zacchaeus' name ahead of time, or does he pick it up from angry whispers in the crowd about the man Jesus was peering up at. Now he calls out to Zacchaeus by name: "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." The word translated "make haste" is Greek speudo, "hurry, hasten."[8] Jesus is not content to make an appointment for later. Now is the time. The phrase "must abide" is interesting. It uses the Greek word dei, "to be under necessity of happening, 'it is necessary, one must, one has to,' denoting compulsion of any kind."[9] "Stay" or "abide" is Greek meno, "remain, stay," often in the special sense "live, dwell, lodge."[10] Jesus says he "must" come to dinner! Now! Immediately! We might think of this as presumptuous and rude. But Zacchaeus is overjoyed. Here he was, a social outcast being offered the opportunity to host one of the most famous men in the country. Of course, he is happy. He scrambles down the tree and welcomes Jesus. The word "welcome" is Greek hupodechomai, "to receive hospitably, 'receive, welcome, entertain as a guest.' "[11] Jesus isn't the first prophet to be sent by God to an individual who would feed him. God tells Elijah the Prophet:

1 Kings 17:9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 and as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. (1 Kings 17:9-11)
Jesus has invited himself for dinner at this man's home. Out of hunger? No. But because he knows something about the desire and earnestness in this man's heart. Jesus can see that he is wealthy. His clothes betray that easily. Be he can also see the man's longing and his faith. Jesus has spiritual sight. I've had experiences in preaching where I knew without anyone telling me the people with whom God was working during the message. Perhaps it could be explained by subtle body language, but I believe that God was showing me certain people who he was working with. Now, I haven't always had this insight -- not by any means. But I know it exists. And I believe that is what Jesus has that day in Jericho; it accounts for him inviting himself to Zacchaeus' home for dinner. Elijah's presence is instrumental in feeding the destitute widow and her son. Jesus' presence is

responsible for providing salvation and forgiveness to a wealthy man who is starving for spiritual life.

Guest of a Sinner (19:7)
But Jesus' choice of dinner companions didn't make him popular in Jericho.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. (19:7)
The word "mutter" is Greek diagogguzo, "complain, grumble (aloud)."[12] Aren't you glad that Jesus loves you whether or not others approve? Perhaps the people are jealous that the honor of Jesus' presence goes to such an unworthy citizen. And perhaps they think less of Jesus for associating with people like Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus Repents (19:8)
8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. (19:8)

Look at Zacchaeus' reaction to the criticism and shame he is bringing on his guest. First, he stands up, indicating probably that he had fallen to his knees before Jesus. Next, he offers to give half his possessions to the poor. The rich young ruler (who evidently was richer than Zacchaeus) has trouble disposing of his wealth, but not Zacchaeus. In one stroke he pledges half his possessions to help the poor. 50% of one's possessions goes far beyond the 20% that might be considered generous by the rabbis.[13] Here is a fledgling disciple who does not love money, but has his priorities in the right place. Finally, he offers restitution to any he has wronged -- four times the amount he cheated them. Our English translation "if I have cheated anybody" might indicate that Zacchaeus isn't taking responsibility for cheating, and making it only hypothetical. The verb translated "cheated" is sukophanteo, which means "to secure something through intimidation, 'extort.' "[14] This conditional clause doesn't put in doubt the fact of the extortion, only its extent. Marshall translates it, "From whomsoever I have wrongfully exacted anything...."[15] It is wonderfully refreshing to see such repentance by a man who realizes that his life must change or it will bring discredit upon his guest. These days it is common to see people wearing a cross -- the symbol of Jesus' death for our sins -- and be involved with all kinds of sin and degradation. King David, who committed adultery, murder, and deceit, was heartbroken when the Prophet Nathan reminded him, "By doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt..." (2 Samuel 12:14). It is so vital to repentance that we recognize, as David did, that "Against you , and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" (Psalm 51:4). Our sins against others discredit the God with whom we identify ourselves, and we owe him a huge apology. Zacchaeus' acts of repentance were both genuine and required if he is to remove from Jesus the shame of associating with him. Isn't it wonderful that Jesus takes our shame upon himself willingly, waiting, hoping that we will understand and repent.

What grace! What mercy! Love changes people. Jesus' love changes us. Our love for others can bring change to them.

Son of Abraham (19:9)
9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. (19:9)

Now Jesus moves to reconcile Zacchaeus with the townspeople who despise him. They view tax collectors as worse than infidels, banish them from their synagogues, and disown them as Jews. But Jesus insists that Zacchaeus has received salvation (Greek soteria). His actions evidence repentance, a change of heart. And Jesus reaffirms that Zacchaeus is indeed a Jew, a son of Abraham. He calls on the man's neighbors to welcome and accept him.

Seeking the Lost (19:10)
10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
(9:10) The final passage of this section of Luke's Gospel contains Jesus' mission -- that of a Shepherd, to seek and to rescue the lost and straying. It is a servant's role. There is little glorious about this kind of work. It may look spectacular in mass meetings where the converted stream from the stadium seating to a place of repentance on the infield, but it involves working with slimy people who have committed grievous sins and whose lives are both miserable and misery-filled. Those people are in our churches, in our neighborhoods, at our jobs, in our schools -- hurting people whose lives are messed up and who need Jesus' mercy and grace. These people need our willingness to love them rather than judge them, our willingness to go out of our way to extend ourselves in love.

Prayer
Jesus, as I read about Zacchaeus, I think of my own selfishness. Sometimes I am impatient with people, despairing of people for whom you died. Forgive me for my lack of vision. Help me to see you at work in people around me. Help me to be willing to risk whatever reputation I have to join in your search and rescue campaign. I long to see your salvation shine more brightly through me. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.