(The first of a series of posts from a message on October 30 based on Luke 19:1-10.)
Zacchaeus was a tax collector who lived in the city of Jericho about 2000 years ago. But he had several things in common with people we know.
He had an unpopular job. He worked for Rome, who had occupied Israel. He was Jewish, but he was working for the enemy. Imagine that your company has been bought out by another company. And one of your coworkers starts helping the new owners take your best ideas, your best products, and send them to the corporate headquarters on the East coast.
And he was really good at it. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector. He was the best among the people you hate.
Zacchaeus had done things that made people not like him. It wasn’t just his job. It would be possible to be an honest tax collector, to only charge what was required. But it was possible for tax collectors to charge a little extra. Or a lot extra. In the name of Rome, they could help themselves. In the case of our business example, this coworker takes over the best office, the office that used to be used for the president who got replaced.
Zacchaeus was curious about Jesus. Somehow Zacchaeus hears about Jesus. Or perhaps, he overhears about Jesus. Because no one will talk directly to him. But as he listens to the conversations in the market, Zacchaeus hears the name, Jesus. He hears that Jesus has just healed the blind beggar outside of town. And something makes him want to see this man.
There are a lot of people curious about Jesus. Not about all the religious things that have grown up around him, but about Jesus. They would love to eavesdrop on a real conversation with him. They would like to stand somewhere in the background and see him healing or talking or loving. They are feeling like they can’t walk into all the official places for God, like churches, but are curious about Jesus.
Let’s look at more about Zacchaeus who might help us out.