A Friend of Sinners (Luke 19)

Daily reading assignment – Luke 19

Today’s devotional brings us to the last days before Jesus sets His face toward Jerusalem, His triumphant entry, and the Cross. Today’s Scripture reading takes us through Jericho, that most ancient of cities, located on an oasis in the desert, about ten miles northwest of the Dead Sea. It is in Jericho that Jesus had scheduled a providential encounter with a wealthy publican, a tax collector, named Zacchaeus.

Luke 19 is rich in details that characterized Jesus’ earthly ministry.

We observe His love for sinners, when He dined in the home of Zacchaeus, a despised tax collector of Jericho (19:1-10). We notice His concern that His disciples would be faithful after He was departed out of this world, expressed in the Parable of the Pounds (19:11-27).  When He beheld Jerusalem, Jesus’ love moved Him to tears; He understood the fickle nature of the people, and the wickedness of their leaders. He knew the throng who hailed Him as King, would soon cry for Him to be crucified (19:28-41).  He knew the inevitability of God’s judgment upon Jerusalem (19:42-44).

Luke 19:1-10 – An Unexpected Guest for Supper

Before we close today’s commentary, let’s step into the scene where Zacchaeus comes face-to-face with Jesus.

I have identified in earlier devotions the disdain the Jewish people held for tax collectors, known as publicans in the first century. Employed to collect taxes for Rome, publicans were not only considered traitors of Israel, but they were notorious for cheating the people and skimming monies from the taxes they collected. Publicans like Zacchaeus, enriched themselves at the expense of their own people, and were named among the worst of sinners.

Imagine the dismay of the people when Jesus chose to dine in Zacchaeus’ home (19:5).

We read, “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” (19:5).

Zacchaeus was, at least in the eyes of the people, the most unlikely of all the men in Jericho, who would desire to have Jesus in his home. Nevertheless, Jesus knew the heart of Zacchaeus like none other. When Zacchaeus realized even he, a hated publican, could receive Jesus into his home, he rejoiced and obeyed immediately (19:6).

The proud, self-righteous people began to murmur among themselves, appalled that Jesus would “be guest with a man that is a sinner” (19:7).

Zacchaeus, however, was humbled and moved to repentance by the LORD’S love and compassion. His sorrow over his sin, moved him to rise from the table, and proclaim, “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” (19:8).

Remember how the rich young ruler walked away from the LORD, because he was rich? Zacchaeus, genuinely repentant over his sin, desired to make restitution of all he had wrongfully taken (19:8).

Jesus, recognizing in Zacchaeus the fruit of sincere repentance, announced:

Luke 19:9a–10 – “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of man [a Messianic title; Daniel 7:13] is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Though a notorious sinner in the eyes of man, Zacchaeus had been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. By his repentance, he was not only a “son of Abraham” by physical lineage; he had become a “son of Abraham” by saving faith (19:9-10).

Galatians 3:6–7, 9 – Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham…9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Friend, have you, like Zacchaeus, come to realize you are a lost sinner in the judgment of God Who is holy (Romans 3:10-12, 23)?

Abraham and Zacchaeus were saved from the curse of sin, not by their good works, but because they believed God would place His righteousness to their account.

Romans 3:23–2423For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith