Bible Society of South Africa

A tax collector meets Jesus – 8 September 2021

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

Jesus and Zacchaeus

1Jesus went on into Jericho and was passing through. 2There was a chief tax collector there named Zacchaeus, who was rich.

Luke 19:1-2GNBOpen in Bible reader

A friend of mine who was doing missionary work in Belgium once encountered someone who was not interested in hearing about God at all. He said, “I do not need God, I am healthy and I have everything that one can desire.” Zacchaeus might have felt the same at the time he heard that Jesus was visiting his city, Jericho.

Zacchaeus was not called a chief tax collector for nothing. A footnote in the latest Afrikaans Bible translation, ‘Die Bybel: 2020-vertaling’ tells us that the word for chief tax collector appears only in this instance in the Bible and probably designated a person who had other tax collectors working for him. Tax collectors worked for the government and a good percentage went into their own pockets. To be a chief tax collector would have made him a very rich man, someone who would need nothing from anybody.

Where and how Zacchaeus heard about Jesus, we do not know. Maybe people in Jericho talked about the new prophet at an earlier stage or he might have heard about him from the people in the crowd. Fact is, he was curious to see Jesus. Short in stature, he found it difficult to get a glimpse of Jesus, but he quickly made a plan and climbed into a wild fig tree. He probably expected nothing more than getting a good look at this important person, but he got the biggest surprise, and eventually, the biggest gift of his life.

“Hurry down Zacchaeus,” Jesus said to him “because I must stay in your house today” and at a later stage in the narrative: “Salvation has come to this house today …” An encounter with Jesus is always a make-or-break situation, there is no middle-of-the-road position possible. Zacchaeus is one of the blessed. The Jews who criticised Jesus said, “This man has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner!” and they were one hundred per cent correct. He was a sinner, indeed, but he realised it –something the man in Belgium obviously did not – and fixed what he had done wrong.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me to see where I have wronged other people and help me to fix those wrongs. I thank you that you also brought salvation to me and my house. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
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