When we compare the actions of Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 we can see quite a contrast. Where Zacchaeus spontaneously offered to donate his great wealth to the needy…the rich young ruler, when challenged by Jesus to sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor, left unwilling. True repentance changes us from the inside out. It transforms our heart, causing us to alter our actions and way of thinking to that of Christ’s.
Zacchaeus was the Chief Tax Collector in Jericho. A much hated puppet of the Roman government who regularly exploited and gouged his own people. But Zacchaeus had heard of this man Jesus and wanted to get a closer look…so he decided to do something completely undignified for man of his position…he climbed a tree. He climbed a tree for the practical reason that he was a short man in a sea of people…but, as the old saying goes, “to be up a tree” could be fitting for him also. When someone is “up a tree” they are in a difficult situation without a way of escape. Could Zacchaeus had sensed the hopelessness and desperation in his soul as Jesus approached? As Jesus came near the tree, He looked up, called Zacchaeus by name, and invited Himself to his house in one short interaction…but this encounter changed everything for Zacchaeus. For the seeker now had been sought by the Savior, and his life would be changed forever.