And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
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.
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
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.
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
The first Pre-Lenten bell has sounded. From the time of Zacchaeus Sunday until Great Lent is completed, a period of 77 days and 21% of the entire calendar year, the church’s tonality will speak of conversion, repentance, and change.
The story of Zacchaeus is quite familiar (Luke 19:1-10). There is no need to repeat it. What is perhaps most notable about Zacchaeus is not simply his desire to change, or even that he struggled to change, but ultimately he resolved to stay changed.
Even as he continued in his role as ‘chief’ tax collector – and let’s face it, it takes a long time to be the chief of anything, which would indicate Zacchaeus had extorted and deceived others for years – something was stirring in his heart, and began to work within his soul. Whatever the reason, Zacchaeus’ heart changed, it converted, and in in the final analysis, he repented and even offered restitution.
Living a Christian life is a long process. It’s life-long, in fact. There are days when we feel nothing, when there is little change. Still, we learn from Zacchaeus. His repentance indicates that we only draw near to God and the light through struggle, through prayer, and through hope. The church offers nothing else.
Though his life was clearly governed by fraud, deception, lies and extortion prior to his conversion, Zacchaeus presents a wonderful example of struggle, perseverance, conversion, repentance, and change.
May the image of this man Zacchaeus and the several obstacles he overcame, put each of us on the road to repentance. This remains the reason for living, to repent and be changed. So like Zacchaeus, salvation will come to us and our house, and that we can enter into life eternal and God’s Kingdom.