Story Of Zacchaeus In The Bible

The story of Zacchaeus was recorded in the Bible in Saint Luke 19. Jesus, who used to stay with Zacchaeus on his journeys through Jericho and the surrounding countryside, entered the city. People were surprised to see him there because it was common for him to avoid the busiest places.

In the Bible story of Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus is a chief tax collector who was short in stature. One day, he saw Jesus passing by, and he wanted to see Jesus as a tourist wants to visit the pyramids. Zacchaeus began to climb a sycamore tree that was next to the road so that he could see Jesus and have a better look at him.

Zacchaeus the tax collector was a dishonest, greedy man. He was skilled in defrauding those who owed taxes to Rome, and had amassed great wealth.   Zacchaeus heard that Jesus, the wandering Rabbi from Nazareth, had come to Jericho. His curiosity was aroused and he decided to see for himself what this ”Son of David” looked like.

In the New Testament, Zacchaeus was a very rich tax collector, whose profession it was to collect taxes from people who came into Jerusalem. Zacchaeus got his name from his height, because he was short in stature, only being about three and a half feet tall. When a man named Jesus came to Jerusalem, Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus for two reasons. First he wanted to see what this new teacher was all about because there were rumors going around that Jesus had done miracles. Also, Zacchaeus wanted to see him because Jesus would be coming by the way of where his home was located up in a sycamore tree.

Story Of Zacchaeus In The Bible

Zacchaeus was a tax collector of the city Jericho and learned that Jesus the prophet was passing through the city.  Since Zacchaeus was “short in stature,” he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up into a sycamore tree to have a better view of Jesus.  When Jesus arrived, he noticed Zacchaeus in the tree and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  This made Zacchaeus very joyful but the crowd “grumbled,” or murmured in a complaint that Jesus “has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 

Most of us who grew up in church know this little song, and any mention of Zacchaeus starts it playing in our brains. The story of Zacchaeus climbing a tree is fun to share with young children; especially because they are also ‘wee little’ people. Yet there is so much to learn about him beyond the fact that he was a short guy who hung out in trees, and Zacchaeus is someone that we adults can relate to as well.

Story Of Zacchaeus In The Bible

Zacchaeus in the Bible was a man whose life-changing encounter with Jesus was recorded by Luke (Luke 19:1–10). Zacchaeus was one of the head tax collectors in the region of Jericho, and the Bible says he was a rich man. Jewish tax collectors like Zacchaeus were scorned by their countrymen for a couple of reasons: one, they were known for cheating the taxpayers; and, two, they worked for Rome. The other Jews saw Jewish tax collectors as collaborators with the enemy—traitors to their own people.

Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus as the Lord passed through town, but, because Zacchaeus was a short man, he could not see over the thronging crowd. Knowing that Jesus would pass by a certain sycamore tree, Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed the tree, figuring he could see Jesus passing below. This action is interesting. First, Zacchaeus did not think himself important enough for Jesus to notice. Second, he wanted to see Jesus anyway. Like an eager fan going to extreme measures to catch a glimpse of a movie star who he knows will not notice him, Zacchaeus climbs a tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus passing by. To the complete astonishment of Zacchaeus and the crowd, Jesus stopped under the tree, looked up, and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Zacchaeus was overjoyed, but the crowd grumbled because Zacchaeus was a tax collector, and they could not understand why Jesus would choose to associate with such a man—a “sinner” as they called him (Luke 19:7). Zacchaeus, however, was so affected by the incident that he stood up and declared, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (verse 8). Jesus happily proclaimed that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house, and that even the tax collector was now “a son of Abraham” (verse 9)—a reference to Zacchaeus’ faith because those who have the faith of Abraham can truly be called the sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:7). Then Jesus responded to those who had murmured against Him, saying, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). As Jesus said elsewhere, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Matthew 9:12).

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