“He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.” (Luke 19: 1- 6)
This may be the source of all the jokes that tax collectors are unscrupulous. Certainly they have “enjoyed” such a reputation down through history, both real and imagined. Even Zacchaeus is pictured in picture bibles as a very short man dressed in loud colors and flowing clothing. But let us not forget that Zacchaeus made every effort and beyond to see Jesus. That says a great deal about his character. We see that in the following verses.
“All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, 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.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Verses 7 -10)
Confession, penance and forgiveness. It is for everyone – even those it is assumed are undeserving of it. For a short guy with a bad reputation, he has a lot to teach us! Selah!