Zacchaeus, filthy rich chief tax collector, wanted to see Jesus, but felt ashamed of being seen by the crowd. He thought hard about it, and came to the solution, that if he climbed a tree, from there he would be able to see Jesus from afar when he passed that way. Zacchaeus' secret location was revealed. Jesus looked up in the tree and called him to come down. He was surprised to learn, that Jesus knew him by name, and also knew of his secret hiding place. Zacchaeus was full of joy when he heard Jesus call him by name. The crowd believed that Zacchaeus was a sinner, because his great wealth was extorted from their annual tax. They was in consternation to learn that Jesus was going to stay at the house of the sinner. Jesus gave Zacchaeus more than he could hope for, merely to view him from afar. Jesus took the initiative, came and stayed at his house. Welcoming Jesus to his house was out of his wishful dream when Jesus called to him:
'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, I must stay at your house today' v. 6
In responding to Jesus' calling him; he made a public announcement
'Look, sir, I am going to give half of my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount' v.8
Zacchaeus made no confession of his sin, but his action spoke louder than words. True repentance causes a change of heart, and that was manifested through concrete actions. He was able to detach half of his wealth, giving it for the poor, and if he had harmed anyone, he would repay four times the amount back to the victims. This was much more generous than the penalty prescribed by rules of the land. He did it, not because of pressure from the crowd, but voluntarily, out of his genuine love for Jesus. Zacchaeus was physically and morally small, but as the chief tax collector, he was big in social status. After meeting Jesus his physical appearance and social status were unchanged, but his heart changed. He was able to show his love for the poor, for his victims and became detached from his own wealth. What surprises us all was the reaction of the crowd. The crowd criticised Jesus and were outraged by His behaviour, because Jesus chose to be in the company of sinners, and dined with them. After Zacchaeus' conversion, the crowd was unable to welcome him back to their community. The crowd had followed Jesus for some time, but there was no evidence to show that their hearts had changed, because they continued to label Zacchaeus, whom Jesus had already forgiven as a sinner. Jesus used the occasion to teach them about his great love for sinners, and also of his saving mission for everyone.
'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost. v.10
Jesus tried to show the crowd that His great love for Zacchaeus was much more powerful than Zacchaeus' sin, and His saving mission was to save the lost ones. Jesus came to care for those in need, and welcomed those rejected by society.