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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Zacchaeus

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(See ZACCHAI.) Luke 19:1-10. The Lord Jesus had received Bartimaeus' application on the day of His entry into Jericho. (See BARTIMAEUS; JERICHO . Later in His progress, when He had passed through Jericho and had healed the blind, He met Zacchaeus, chief among the publicans or tax gatherers, i.e. superintendent of customs and tribute in the district of Jericho famed for its balsam, and so rich. The Lord had shortly before encountered the rich young ruler, so loveable, yet lacking one thing, the will to part with his earthly treasure and to take the heavenly as his portion. He had said then, "how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God;" yet to show us that "the things impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:18-27), and that riches are not an insuperable barrier against entrance into heaven, the case of the rich yet saved Zacchaeus follows. Holding his commission from his Roman principal contractor to the state (publicanus, manceps) to collect the dues imposed by Rome on the Jews, Zacchaeus had subordinate publicans under him.

The palm groves of Jericho and its balsam gardens (now no longer existing) were so valuable that Antony gave them as a source of revenue to Cleopatra, and Herod the Great redeemed them for his benefit. Zacchaeus "sought to see Jesus who He was." Evidently, Zacchaeus had not seen Jesus in person before, but had heard of His teachings and miracles. So, his desire was not merely from curiosity; as in the case of the young ruler, desire for "eternal life" entered into his wish to see the Saviour, but unlike the rich young ruler he had no self-complacent thought, "all the commandments I have kept from my youth up"; sense of sin and need on the contrary were uppermost in his mind, as the sequel shows.

Zacchaeus could not see Jesus "for the press, because he was little of stature"; but where there is the will there is a way; he ran before (eagerness and determination, Hebrews 12:1; but God's love ran first toward Zacchaeus, Luke 19; Luke 15:20), and climbed up into a sycamore to see Jesus as He was to pass that way. Etiquette and social rank would suggest such an act was undignified, but faith outweighs every other consideration. Jesus, on reaching the spot, singled him out among all the crowd for His regard. He looked up and saw Zaachaeus, as His eye had rested on Nathanael under the fig tree (John 1:48); "Zacchaeus (Zacchaeus could not but have joyfully wondered at being thus accosted by name, though a stranger before: John 10:3; Isaiah 43:1; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12.), make haste, and come down, for today (Hebrews 4:7; Hebrews 3:13; 2 Corinthians 6:2) I must (for thy salvation, verse 9 (Luke 19:9), Luke 19:5) abide at thy house" (John 14:23). Zaachaeus made haste (Psalms 119:60; contrast Felix, Acts 24:25, the Athenians, 17:32) and came down (so we must, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5) and received Him joyfully (Revelation 3:20; Acts 16:34).

What a contrast to his joy, humility, and faith was the murmuring of the self-righteous bystanders, "He is gone to be guest with a sinner," self invited, not merely as before eating with such by special invitation! (Luke 15:2; Luke 5:29-30) a further loving condescension. Zaachaeus "stood" with prompt and deliberate purpose, and said, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor (now that I know Thee as my all; not I have given, which would savour more of the self-righteous Pharisee, Luke 18:11; heretofore Zaachaeus often had taken wrongfully rather than given charitably; now he resolves from this moment to be a new man, 2 Corinthians 5:17; contrast the ruler's disinclination to Christ's testing command, 'sell all that thou hast and give to the poor,' Luke 18:22); and if I have taken anything (i.e. whatsoever I have taken, confessing now past takings) from any man by false accusation I (now) restore him fourfold," an ingenuous confession and voluntary restitution; so the law (Exodus 22:1).

True faith always works by love, and brings forth fruits meet for repentance. Zaachaeus, as his name and Jesus' subsequent declaration imply, was an Israelite. Jesus said then in respect to him, directing His words to the bystanders, "this day is salvation (embodied in Jesus, whose name means Jehovah Saviour) come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham, both by birth and by faith (Galatians 3:7; Romans 4:11-12; Romans 4:16). The very day of conversion may often be known (Philippians 1:5; Acts 2:41). The believer tries and often succeeds in bringing his household to Christ (Acts 16:34; Acts 10:2-33; Acts 10:44; Acts 10:48). "For the Son of man (sympathizing therefore with man, however fallen by sin) is come to seek (Zaachaeus sought Jesus, Luke 19:3, only because Jesus first sought Zaachaeus) and to save that which was lost." The Lord stayed all night at the house of Zaachaeus, as the Greek implies: verses 5 and 7 (meinai ... katalusai ) (Luke 19:5; Luke 19:7). A Zaachaeus lived at Jericho at this time, father of the celebrated Rabbi Jochanan ben Zachai.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Zacchaeus'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/z/zacchaeus.html. 1949.

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