Luke19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. 2 A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” 6 So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.
7 Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One came to seek and save the lost.”
The Gospel of Luke has a lot to say about money and how people with too much money usually don’t want to hear the word of God because money is meant for sharing and people with lots of money don’t share as much as they should.
Zacchaeus was a Hebrew and a tax collector, which meant not only did he have lots of money, he also worked for the Roman government who forced poor people to give up their land and often sold them into slavery. Often tax collectors forced the people to pay them more than the Roman government demanded, and they kept the extra. No one liked the tax collectors because the other Hebrews saw them as betraying their own people to the Romans.
Jesus saw through to people’s hearts, however, and even though Zacchaeus was doing a job that often hurt others, Zacchaeus was doing the job differently. He wanted to assure Jesus that he was also giving back to the poor and making extra payments to anyone he might have charged extra along the way. Jesus knew that even though Zacchaeus continued doing his job, he wasn’t exploiting people.
In our reading today, Jesus uses the story of Zacchaeus as an example of how to live the way God wants us to live, and ensure that the people are taking care of the poor and hurting. Zacchaeus was trying to make it better, just as Jesus asked all of us to help make it better.
When we talk about ‘salvation’, it is always salvation for everyone at the same time, not for one person or another. All of us are responsible for making this God’s world by focusing on the needs of the world, not ourselves.