As a chief toll collector and viewed by his fellow townspeople as a sinner Zacchaeus certainly qualified as one of the disadvantaged to whom the Lucan Jesus was particularly sent. The dominant thought pattern in the Zacchaeus story is seeking, seeing, and salvation. Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus and even climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view. But Jesus noticed Zacchaeus in the tree and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house. Exactly as instructed, Zacchaeus made haste and descended and received Jesus joyfully. Once they arrived at the house, Jesus explained that on that day salvation had come to this house because Zacchaeus, too, was a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. He who sought to see Jesus was really sought, seen, and saved by him.
Zacchaeus also demonstrated a correct attitude towards wealth. The text does not explicitly say that he cheated anyone. After the encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus did distance himself from his wealth. He gave half of his goods to the poor, and although the normal recompense for money illegally acquired was that amount plus one fifth, Zacchaeus restored the amount plus a threefold penalty, thus he restored fourfold.
The story of Zacchaeus comes immediately after the story of the Rich Ruler (Lk 18:18-23), and comparing the two stories we can gain better insight into the story of Zacchaeus. Both men were powerful, and both were wealthy. The first kept all the commandments, and could be considered as righteous. But he could not do the “one thing remaining,” which was to hand over his life utterly to Jesus, and to signal that commitment by selling his possessions and giving them to the poor. Zacchaeus, in contrast, was regarded as a “sinner” by those accompanying Jesus because of his occupation as a chief toll-collector. But he was eager to receive Jesus with joy and he declared