“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly,” Luke 19:1-6. If we could hear Zaccheus, himself, relate his conversion to Christ, it might very well be this three-part statement, “He saw me, He welcomed me, He changed me.” He Saw Me. “When Jesus came to the place, He looked up...” (Luke 19:5). When most saw Zaccheus, they would have been filled with such disdain and disgust, it would have been hard for them to see anything more than the short, rich, tax-collector he had become. From the statement made from the crowd, it becomes painfully obvious that “a man called by the name of Zaccheus” is no more than “a man who is a sinner,” (Lk. 19:7). For all who knew him, this was the summation of all they saw in Zaccheus, and for all they were concerned, was all anyone else needed to see in him as well. But Jesus saw more. When Jesus looked up at the short, rich tax-collector in the sycamore tree, it must have shocked and moved Zaccheus to meet someone who saw the bigger picture of Zaccheus’ life. The name, Zaccheus, means “pure.” This despised and viewed traitor among his people was once an innocent little baby. He had parents who loved him very much and named him, “pure”, with the hopes he would live a pure and holy life before God. But somewhere along the way, that innocent child with the hopes of being rich in righteousness, grew to develop a sinful heart full of such greed he would be willing to destroy his very reputation in order to become rich in worldly wealth. When Jesus saw Zaccheus, He saw the whole picture, and looked with such compassion and sympathy, that He saw a pure heart that had become lost along the way in the sinful world it grew up in. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10). Jesus not only looked at Zaccheus in sympathy of what he once was, but in hope of what he could become again. He Welcomed Me. “...He looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house,” (Luke 19:5). Being a chief tax collector, it is most likely Zaccheus had heard of the shocking reception for Jesus a certain tax collector named Levi held, where a huge crowd of tax collectors and sinners were the primary invited guests. This gathering sent shock waves through the community prompting many to question the preferred company of the prophesied Messiah. “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” (Luke 5:30). Given the excitement in the actions of Zaccheus, running ahead of the crowd and climbing a tree to make sure he wouldn’t miss getting a good view of Jesus passing through, you can picture the wonder and enthusiastic curiosity running through his mind. “Would Jesus welcome someone like me in His presence too?” Imagine the excitement it must have filled him with to find Zaccheus would get the best seat in the city to see Jesus, even better than the seat he found in the sycamore tree he climbed to get a better view. He would be seated right next to Jesus in his very own home! He Changed Me. “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham,” (Luke 19:9). In the house, Zaccheus was undoubtedly a captive audience for the message Jesus gave him. While we don’t have the words of Jesus recorded for us, we can get a pretty good idea based on the fact the primary reason He is in Jericho is because He is on His way to Jerusalem, and He has previously revealed to His disciples what was going to happen there. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again,” (Luke 18:31-33). The compassionate, welcoming message of forgiveness of sins and the nature of the Kingdom of God was too compelling for Zaccheus to pass up and it changes him. “Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much,’” (Luke 19:8). What a wonderful day of salvation it was for Zaccheus and how wonderful it continues to be for all who will be open to hear the message of good news today! Let us learn from this encounter with Zaccheus how we may be effective in helping sinners find salvation. When we see sinners, let us, like Jesus, be willing to see the whole picture. Sinners are so much more than a quick title summarizing the current events in their life. There is an entire story of a pure soul that became lost who Jesus is seeking to restore again. Let us see them this way as well, and welcome them, as Jesus did, in our presence that we may share the good news of salvation. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10).