Bible Characters – Zacchaeus
Bible Characters – Zacchaeus
The story of Zacchaeus is a lesson in how what goes around comes around!
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100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible passage – Luke 19:1–9

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig-tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ”Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.” Jesus said to him, ”Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”


This passage reads like a gospel psychology textbook! It’s a lesson in how what goes around comes around. Reading between the lines, we can guess how Zacchaeus, short and geeky, was pushed to the edge, maybe laughed at and left out. Compensating with remarkable success he turned the tables on the community in which he grew up, and extorted in cash the well-being that was not on offer in the form of acceptance and affirmation. And eventually everyone hated him.

The phrase “at the top of the tree” comes into its own in the story of Zacchaeus. We see him perched at the top of the tree in every way – powerful, abundantly wealthy, and isolated on the perch to which he had scrambled, shoved as he was to the outskirts of the crowd who would make no place to let him in.

Jesus turns this around by loving him, choosing him, affirming him. That’s all it takes.



O God of generous love and abundant provision, we give thanks to you for your mercy and kindness poured out upon our own lives. Thank you for our friends, our homes and families, the hospitality we enjoy in the homes of others, and the chance to offer hospitality ourselves. Thank you for the material benefits of our lives, and the well-being we enjoy. By your grace at work in our hearts, make us generous and forgiving, eager to share, and sensitive to the loneliness and needs of others. May we so treat other people that injustice and greed cannot flourish easily in the environments we create, because love and acceptance are the keynotes of our communities. This we ask in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.