I hope you enjoyed getting to know Jonah as much as I enjoyed blogging about him. Jonah was a regular guy- full of flaws and bad choices- who is loved by God, sought by God, and used by God for good (almost in spite of himself).
You might recall that I had planned to run the Jonah series between Christmas and lent. Well, as it turns out lent begins later than I thought when I planned that out which left me some time to fill. As I was wrapping up the Jonah series I prayed about what (or who!) to blog about. On Saturday I helped my son file his tax return and God put Zacchaeus on my heart- so let’s get to know a little bit more about Zacchaeus, a little man with a big story.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. (Luke 19:1)
Tax collectors have never been popular, but especially not in Roman Palestine which is the backdrop for Luke 19. The Romans “farmed out” tax collection services- instead of official Roman personnel collecting taxes, they “outsourced” this to locals and paid them a commission of whatever they collected. The more that a tax collector took in, the more he received. The tax money was used to fund the repression of God’s chosen people by the pagans. Fair to say the incentives and motives of the tax collectors weren’t pure, the processes were corrupt, they weren’t well liked, and the end result of their efforts funded pagan efforts.
Luke writes that Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector so he had been doing this for some time and earned a reputation for himself. The verse also describes Zacchaeus as wealthy, and since he is paid a commission of what he collected, he must have collected a lot of tax money. Zacchaeus was collecting money to subsidize the pagans, and he’s taxing the local hardworking farmers to do it. Hardly the sort of person God would want to use, right? Stay tuned…