1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man, he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' " 8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." 9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:1-10).
Zacchaeus had a problem trying to see Jesus--he was small in stature. The crowd along the road would not let him push through, but his curiosity could not be satisfied until he saw Jesus. He ran along the road ahead to the place where there was a significant sycamore-fig tree and hastily climbed up the short trunk and hid in the full branches. Who in the crowd was Jesus? Zacchaeus did not know the Lord, but Jesus knew him. Perhaps Christ had come this same way because he knew where Zacchaeus would be waiting.
I’m sure Zacchaeus’s heart skipped a beat when the crowd stopped as the Lord looked up into the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
The condescension of Christ is most beautiful. Jesus looked down from heaven, but He also came down and entered into our painful world. Furthermore, here He is looking up to Zacchaeus and asking him to come down. God always humbles a soul before he brings him to heaven. We must let go of every branch we hold on to and come down in our estimation of ourselves. Being a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus had lived his life climbing to the top of the ladder but came to a place where he realized the ladder was against the wrong wall. He had chased money all his life but became hated by the people around him, losing all self-respect due to his cheating ways, yet Jesus valued him so much that He would come to his house.
Do you realize that the God of the universe knows you by name and values you profoundly? He wants to come and live inside the house of your heart. He values us so much that He calls each of us individually amid our circumstances. Zacchaeus was singled out by Jesus and directly called by name. He was told by Christ, "I must stay at your house today." The phrase "must stay" (NIV) or "must abide" (KJV) is used. It denotes a compulsion of any kind, such as unavoidable, urgent, compulsory necessity.” God wrote Zacchaeus into His plan and called him into a relationship with Christ.
God calls directly to those who come to Him: “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). The Scripture tells us that God has ordained (To prearrange unalterably; predestine: by fate ordained) beforehand those who are saved. The Lord orders our circumstances to cause us to call out to Him. What do we mean by the word election? In his book, Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem defines election as "an act of God before creation in which He chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any unforeseen merit in them, but only because of His sovereign good pleasure." Zacchaeus and all who are born again were called and chosen before the foundation of the world to be His elected ones.
4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves (Ephesians 1:4-6).
Zacchaeus, a known lost person, was one of the last people that one would think would follow the Messiah, but God loves lost people so much that He calls us to Christ. This encounter came about in the city of Jericho, a cursed city (Joshua 6:26), yet Christ came there and called Zacchaeus. He called the worst of sinners from the worst of cities with the worst of trades. Maybe He’s doing the same for you today! Keith Thomas
Shortened from the more detailed study in the Gospel of Luke: 50. The Calling of Zacchaeus