In Jericho there lived a very rich man called Zaccheus. He was the top tax collector in that area. He made a lot of money for himself and for the Romans. Because of this, the Jews did not like Zaccheus. They called him a greedy traitor.
When Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he traveled through Jericho. Huge crowds lined the streets. They waited to see and greet Him with a big cheer. One man in the crowd was Zaccheus. He was so short he could not see over the crowd. So Zaccheus climbed a tree.
He pulled himself into the lowest branch. Then he stepped onto a higher one. He did not care if the people laughed at him up in the tree. He had heard the stories about Jesus being a friend of tax collectors. He just had to see Jesus, no matter what.
The people below him started cheering. Zaccheus saw a man come down the dusty street. “Is that Him? Ah, so that’s Jesus of Nazareth!’, Zaccheus said.
Zaccheus shouted with the rest of the crowd. Then suddenly, he stopped shouting. When Jesus passed beneath Zaccheus’ tree, He looked up. He stared at Zaccheus. The tax collector could not say a word.
Instead, he just stared and stared. He had never seen eyes like Jesus’ before. He could not tear his own eyes away. Jesus said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down. Today I must stay at your house.”
Zaccheus almost fell out of the tree. He was so surprised. He grinned. “What an honor!” he thought to himself. He scrambled down the trunk and led Jesus toward his home.
The people they passed on the way grumbled, “Look at that Jesus. There He goes again, staying with sinners. “When Zaccheus had welcomed Jesus to his house, he made a promise. “Here and now I promise to give half of whatever I earn to the poor. I’ll also give back four times whatever I’ve cheated from others in the past.” He bowed his head. Zaccheus knew who Jesus was. He was ready to change his life for Him.
Jesus said, “Today you and your family are saved. That’s why the Son of Man has come here. I am here to save all the lost and hurting people.”