Zacchaeus was by no means the tallest man in Jericho, but he was one of the richest. He was a chief tax collector. When he found out Jesus was coming into town he clambered up a tree to get a better look. When Jesus saw him He called out, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, I’m staying with you tonight!” The honor of the whole thing knocked Zacchaeus right off his feet. In the next instant he says, “I’m giving half of all that I have to the poor, and then I’m going to pay back everyone I’ve cheated over the years four times the amount.” Jesus quickly responds, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
Nowhere in Luke is there any dialogue recorded between Zacchaeus and Jesus before he makes his decision to stake everything on the man before him. I have to imagine that when he saw Jesus looking at him, he knew what He saw—a despicable little crook that had ruined many lives by his dishonesty. And yet, when Jesus speaks to Zacchaeus, He speaks with such a kindness that Zacchaeus knows he can never go back. At last he has found a treasure that will never perish, spoil or fade.