“Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.”
– Luke 19:9 (NLT)
There’s a story in the Bible about a man named Zacchaeus that I grew up hearing. It wasn’t until recently that I understood how much this story reveals God’s intentions for our current day.
Zacchaeus was a well-known and much-hated tax collector in Jerusalem. Luke 19:2 tells us that he was the chief tax collector in the region and many tax collectors were known to be rich, unkind, and dishonest. However, we learn from Luke’s account that Zacchaeus recognized that even with all his wealth and popularity, he lacked something that fame and fortune couldn’t buy: Jesus.
When Jesus came to town, Zacchaeus found himself in a crowd of people who were all trying to see Him, touch Him, and get close to Him. Jesus–sensitive to the Spirit of God and the needs of the people–knew that Zacchaeus would be there, and that he would be open to a private invitation with the Messiah. Jesus’ sensitivity to the needs of the people wasn’t superficial; He thought beyond the present and into the future when He would no longer be with them.
There is so much that can be unpacked about Jesus and Zacchaeus’ encounter; however, I want us to focus on something specific that happened.
Out of all the people in the crowd, Jesus sees Zacchaeus and asks to visit with him at his house (verse 5). The uproar of the people revealed that they weren’t happy about it (verse 7) and didn’t truly understand the ways of Jesus. Their thoughts were likely on things such as:
Did he have a health concern?
Was he unhappy?
Did he even believe in Jesus?
Is He going to talk to him about giving us our money back?
Why would Jesus be seen with such an evil man?
But the beauty of what Jesus did is so much bigger than what is revealed at that moment.
The very presence of Jesus has power, which is why in His presence, Zacchaeus found himself convicted and repentant of his behavior and sins (verse 9). In the moment of encountering Jesus, we see him with a changed heart, new way of living, and soon-to-be- reformed reputation.
These changes would impact the followers of Jesus around him. Zaccheus’ turn-around lightened their financial burdens and the strain they felt from it, allowing them to focus on drawing closer to God rather than the oppression of the tax laws.
Here is the significance of that story to our current day—Jesus didn’t call Zacchaeus out of his occupation! He did something far greater; He invited him to occupy within his occupation.
So what does it mean to occupy? We will talk more about that in part 2, but for now , I want you to consider how a changed heart toward God has led you toward a greater impact on the lives of those around you.