Exegetical Notes: Luke 19.1-10

  • Found only in Luke, it, along with the healing of the blind and lepers, illustrates the reception of the good news of the gospel by the outcasts.

19 He entered Jericho and was passing through.

  • Jericho – a well known toll city
  • “passing through” – He did not intend to stay, he could not avoid Jerusalem if he truly desired to seek and save the lost.

And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.

  • “Zacchaeus” – In Hebrew the name means “Righteous one”. Zacchaeus has lived a life filled with anything but righteousness.
  • “chief tax collector” – This term (architelōnēs) is found nowhere else in contemporary literature. He is most likely an administrator over the Roman governments tax office – a ‘director of tax collectors’.
  • “rich” – No doubt by overcharging and taking cuts from those who levied taxes under him. As an administrator for the Roman government’s tax office, Zacchaeus had amassed great wealth, overcharging the Jewish people and taking a cut from the taxes gathered by other tax collectors whose work he administered.

And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 

  • “seeking” – His wealth could not provide the one thing he wanted more than anything else.
  • “who Jesus was” – Literally “who he is”. Evidently there’s more than curiosity at work here. See 19:9. He is not seeking out Jesus out of curiosity or because he desired to see some sort of sign.

So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 

  • Such undignified behavior for a wealthy man.

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

  • “must” – This implies divine necessity. This begs the question, who was looking for who?
  • “stay” – MENEO same word is used in John 15 and Jesus’ call for his disciples to remain in him.

So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 

And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 

  • “all” – meaning the people in general.
  • ILL: airplane bump to first class…
  • “grumbled” – We thought Jesus was Messiah, and he is going to eat with a sinful man, a man who represents the enemy government and takes our money to give to them. How can Jesus eat and fellowship with such a traitor? Jesus showed he was an “equal opportunity” diner with traitors. Earlier he had eaten at the home of Pharisees and showed how they were traitors to God’s intentions for the Jews. Now he ate with a person whom the Jews considered a political and economic traitor.
  • “sinner” – They were not speaking of his personal character, but of his calling as a tax collector. Tax collectors were classed as open sinners because they aided the Roman government and because they were notorious in collecting excessive amounts to enrich themselves.

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 

  • “said” – the verbs can be translated as “futuristic presents,” which reveal what Zacchaeus was about to do, because of his encounter with Jesus, i.e., due to his conversion.
  • “half” – generous grace should produce generous people.
  • “goods” – Here referring to belongings. Not earnings.
  • “if” – A condition of reality.
  • “I restore it” – Zacchaeus seems to have accepted the harshest penalty of the law and applied it to himself. Acceptance by Jesus made money insignificant (see 12:33). Repentance came in the form of action (see 3:12–13). He had a new lifestyle because he had a new Lord.
  • “four fold” – The OT required only a twenty percent increase in what was owed, vs what Zacchaeus stated here. NUM 5:7 – he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 

  • “son of Abraham” – Meaning through faith, not bloodline. What is the order here. He responded by faith and became a son of Abraham, or Jesus came to Jerico, found Zaccheus and he was saved BECAUSE he was a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

  • “came “ – Jesus accomplished His divine mission.
  • “seek” – Notice who is doing the seeking here. Aren’t you glad Jesus sought you out?
  • “and to save” – When Jesus finds his own, He always rescues them.
  • “the lost” – Jesus saves sinners!


  1. Accept Christ’s Invitation (19.1-6)
  2. Become a Walking Billboard (19.7-10)
  3. Reflect God’s Grace in How You Live (19.7-8)
  4. Rejoice That You Have Been Found (19.9-10)