Second Chances: Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus was a wee little man

Zacchaeus was a wee little man



When you hear the name Zacchaeus what is the first thing you think of?

It is probably the children’s song we learn, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he.  He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.  And as the Savior passed his way, he said “Zacchaeus, you come down from there.  For I’m going to your house today.  Yes, I’m going to your house today.”

At least that’s what I think of and in many ways it perfectly tells the story of Zacchaeus.

So who was Zacchaeus?


Well, first he was a chief tax collector in Jericho.  Right after that we are told in Luke 19, that he was wealthy.  If you’ve studied the history of life in the time of Jesus, you will remember that many tax collectors were cheats and became wealthy from the misfortune of others.  However, we’re not told if Zacchaeus was such a tax collector or not.  He could have come from a well to do family.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector

Zacchaeus was a tax collector

Zacchaeus name means “pure” and given his statement to Jesus we can “assume” that he strived to be honest.  If that is the case, he was a rare man among the tax collectors.


Scripture says that because he was short, he could not see Jesus so he climbed the sycamore tree.

Jesus says, “Zacchaeus, come down from there.  I must stay at your house today.”  This was scandalous to the crowd and they began to mutter, “He {Jesus} has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

He climbed in the tree to see Jesus

He climbed in the tree to see Jesus


Zacchaeus was afraid he’d done wrong and offered to give “half of my possessions to the Lord…if I have cheated anyone I will give back four times the amount.”

Jesus says to the crowd, “salvation has come to this man.”

Jesus gave Zacchaeus a second chance when he offered him salvation.  The same remains true for each of us today.  Salvation is waiting for us, free of charge.  We just have to ask Jesus into our hearts and confess we are a sinner.


So what can we learn from Zacchaeus?



  1. We should not judge others based on our wisdom

    Jesus comes to Zacchaeus' home Luke 19:2-10

    Jesus comes to Zacchaeus’ home Luke 19:2-10

  2. We do not have to be controlled by our past
  3. We have to be open to God’s help in order to change
  4. Jesus wants to be our guests {live in us}, we just have to ask
  5. God is there before we arrive
  6. We need to position ourselves to encounter Jesus
  7. Focus on Jesus, not the crowd surrounding Him—in this day and age that is more important, but harder than ever.
  8. Go to the source for the information—the best source is always the Bible. If someone has wronged you and said something harmful, go to that person instead of listening to everyone else.
  9. Find a way around the obstacle and not make excuses–Zacchaeus could not see Jesus, but climbed the sycamore tree in order to see him
  10. Jesus does not want us to cheat others
  11. Jesus came to seek and save the loss
  12. If we seek Jesus we will find him

How has Jesus shown you mercy?

For others in the Second Chances series: JonahJob,  SamsonRahabDavid and BathshebaMoses, Joseph and Jacob

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