And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, 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.
Jesus encountered a lot of different kinds of people during His ministry—rich and poor, young and old, men and women, healthy and unwell. And when He finds Zacchaeus up in that tree, He finds a rich man who was willing to accept Him and to do whatever it took to make up for what he had done wrong. Zacchaeus met Jesus and suddenly he was giving away half of his stuff. What a change in his heart. What a change in his life. What a change for his future that decision would bring.
What a contrast Zacchaeus was to the rich young ruler Jesus had recently encountered. He had come seeking eternal life at the feet of Jesus, but he wasn’t willing to give up anything at all. He didn’t want to give away any of his riches. And so because of that he went away exactly the same as he came, and it wasn’t because he wouldn’t give away his money. It was because he wouldn’t give Jesus his heart. He wouldn’t give himself to any cause that didn’t benefit himself in some way. He wouldn’t let go of anything because he only wanted more for himself.
But what about us? Both of these men sought to see Jesus, and both went away from Him with very different results from their encounter with Him. So what are we looking for when we seek Jesus ourselves? Is it to be changed and transformed by His love and His Spirit, or are we content to go away the same as we were? Do we want only to selfishly gain from Him, or will we give Him everything that we are and everything that we have? Will we seek to obey Him and do what He wants us to, or do we stubbornly insist on doing things our way?
Once we come to know Jesus personally and enter into a genuine relationship with Him, we can never be the same. Things that had once seemed so important are suddenly not very important at all. Things we used to do lose their appeal. And we can be transformed as the Spirit of God works in us to mold and make us into new creatures in Christ. Zacchaeus’ change was immediate and evident, and if we are willing to surrender to Jesus, He can work powerfully in our lives, as well.