The event of Zacchaeus meeting Jesus seems to be more than a coincidence. It was divine. Because it really marked a turning point in the life of Zacchaeus, and this happens just about the time Jesus was rounding up his earthly ministry. The encounter, though engendered controversies, but it was one that brought life and hope to the household of the short tax collector.
Christ decision to abide in the house of this man whom everyone had termed a chronic sinner, really aroused many questioning. Why the savior of the whole world would choose to go into the house of a man who is seen as making life difficult especially for the less privilege. It was considered unthinkable and out of order for what Christ represents.
It was a time when the Romans had control over Israel and the tax levy upon the countries over them was heavy. The Romans had some ambitions to enhance their empire and therefore believes that levying their subjects heavily would be a way of achieving this goal. Though the Jews were against their plans but had no option but to pay the tax levy. And the man Zacchaeus was one of the tax collectors, a publican according to the Pharisees, a sinner by their judgment.
How this man got saved gives a clear example of God’s plan of redemption. It was not designed to benefit only a few people, but the whole world. Jesus often affirms that he has not come but to seek the lost sheep of Israel. His ministry was centered on seeking and saving the souls of men and women perishing in darkness and hell.
The Jews never thought salvation was meant for anyone besides them. They thought it was an exclusive right which they earned from God through Abraham. But God’s plan is always beyond the understanding of men. And his plans are always perfect.
The salvation of man is the reason Christ manifested in the flesh. So on meeting Zacchaeus, Jesus saw an opportunity to rescue a soul from the grip of hell while the Jews saw it as an abuse to their person. The conversion of sinners to righteousness is of utmost priority to Christ than the questions of personality. Salvation is not meant to cover a particular set of people, but as many that will be willing to be converted to God will be accepted by him.
Jesus intentionally decided to stop by in the house of Zacchaeus so as to prove this fact. Among many other things he said to him was “This day is salvation come to this house, for as much as he also is a son of Abraham. For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:9-10.
the conversion account of the Samaritan woman and that of Nicodemus are other two examples that relate with the salvation story of Zacchaeus.
The woman at the well in Samaria was obviously a sinner of low reputation but Jesus stood there and ministered to her and on the same instance she herself went on witnessing to others. Nicodemus in his own case privately accepted Christ message of salvation and went on believing.