"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:10
The story of Zacchaeus is probably one of the best-known stories in Jesus ministry because it is a staple for all children's ministries. Who has not heard of Zacchaeus the "wee little man...(who) climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see?" But this event in the life of Jesus and the following parable should be thought-provoking for all professing believers not just seen as a children's story.
In this short account, we are told a lot about this "wee little man." Since he was a rich, chief tax collector for the Roman empire, he was despised by the Jews. To them, he was not only a traitor to the nation of Israel but also a thief. Just like the blind man in the previous chapter, Zacchaeus was determined to see Jesus. Even though Zacchaeus wasn't trying to draw Jesus' attention like the blind man, Jesus was definitely looking for him. When Jesus commanded him to come to Him, Zacchaeus came and received him joyfully. Jesus verbally accredited the blind man's faith as the reason for his healing while his word and action evidence Zacchaeus' faith.
Of his own volition, Zacchaeus announced he would give half his wealth to the poor, and those he had defrauded would be repaid four times what he had stolen. His promise of restitution exceeded what the law required. In Leviticus 6:1-5, the law required anyone guilty of theft to restore 100% of what was stolen plus 20%.
Zacchaeus' vow elicited this statement from Jesus, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham." Look closely at Zacchaeus' statement. Wouldn't you describe it as a confession of faith, "Behold, Lord;" a confession of sin, "if I have defrauded anyone;" and acts of repentance, "I will restore?" Before meeting Jesus, it appears Zacchaeus measured success by the accumulation of financial wealth. But after receiving Jesus joyfully, that standard obviously changed.
An interesting side note: Clement, the bishop of Alexandria, a second-century apologist for the Christian faith, wrote that Zacchaeus remained faithful to the Lord and became the Bishop of Caesarea, where Peter made his confession of faith.
The parable Jesus told following Zacchaeus' conversion provides us with additional insight into how a believer is to use God-given wealth. The story is obviously about a nobleman (Jesus) who departs to receive a kingdom after which he will return. Before the departure, he gave his servants ten minas. The note in the ESV says this was about three months wages for a laborer. Each servant was to "engage in business" until the nobleman returns. The definition for that phrase is to tend to business, manage profitably, and put capital to work. So, servants (of Jesus) are to profitably manage the wealth provided because we will one day give an account for its use. From the parable, the nobleman desires the faithful use of his wealth for the benefit of his kingdom.
It seems both the account of Zacchaeus and the parable address two issues. First, is the acceptance of Jesus as Lord. The parable, like the rest of Luke, makes it evident many will accept Jesus as Lord and Savior but most do not. In both, we see the need to answer the question of how I will handle the wealth God has given me. Will I use my "minas" for Jesus' kingdom and receive great reward or will I use it for some other purpose?
Lord Jesus, I am a blessed man. Thank You for the gift of Your Spirit so that I may see You as God's chosen King. I know that is the greatest blessing of all. Yet, I also know You have blessed me financially. May I be like Zacchaeus and the faithful servants who use this wealth as evidence that You truly are my Lord and my desire is for the furtherance of Your kingdom. Thank You for coming to seek and save me.