People didn’t like Zacchaeus. Why didn’t people like Zacchaeus? Because Zacchaeus was a tax collector. And people didn’t like tax collectors.
One day Zacchaeus heard that Jesus loved everybody. I wonder if Jesus loves me, he thought to himself. No, Jesus can’t love me. even people don’t like me.
Did Jesus love Zacchaeus? Of course He did, because Jesus loves everybody!
Zacchaeus wanted to be like Jesus. But the people still didn’t like Zacchaeus! Zacchaeus was sad and discouraged. Even though his heart had been changed, no one believed him. But Jesus would understand.
One day Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming to Jericho. That was his town! Oh, he just had to see Jesus!
Zacchaeus walked into the crowded streets. He was a short man, so he couldn’t see over the tops of the people’s heads. He was going to miss seeing Jesus! He turned and quickly climbed up into a nearby sycamore tree. Higher and higher he climbed so that he could see better. Then he saw Jesus coming!
Suddenly Jesus stopped right under that tree! He looked up at Zacchaeus and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! I must stay at your house today.”
The people were so surprised! They couldn’t believe that Jesus would want to go to the house of a tax collector! Zacchaeus quickly climbed down out of that tree and took Jesus home with him. Now he knew that he was forgiven. He knew that Jesus loved him. Jesus told everyone in Zacchaeus’ house that He had come to save everyone, including them.
Zacchaeus wanted to do things the way Jesus did. He looked at Jesus and said, “I want to give half of my money to the poor. To the people I may have cheated, I want to give back four times as much as I took. I want to love everybody the way You do.” Jesus was happy that Zacchaeus felt that He was a part of God’s family. Jesus wants us to feel a part of God’s family too.