He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. (Luke 19:1-3 ESV)

Luke makes three observations about Zacchaeus that don’t seem to jive:

  • He was a chief tax collector. He was hated, disregarded, despised, reviled. He trained others to be turncoats. You might say he didn’t only do drugs, he sold them. He was the chief tax collector.
  • He was rich. In Jesus’s encounter with the rich young ruler in chapter 18 He revealed the difficulty rich people have in entering the kingdom of heaven.  But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:23-25 ESV)

And then there’s the third observation…

  • …and he was seeking to see who Jesus was. The hated, cheating tax collector was interested in Jesus.

Don’t underestimate the drawing power of Jesus. Don’t miss the rest of the rich young ruler story:

Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:26-27 ESV)