Zacchaeus’ Example – Keeping God in All of Our Equations


By Roxanne Drury 

I read somewhere that ‘our work, the work that we do, whatever it is, is not meant to make us famous – it is meant to make God famous.’ This is such a profound thought. 

Everyone longs to be known – from little to big people. How valued we feel when someone recognizes us and calls us by name. How important we feel ourselves to be when we are asked for input, advise, or to be of help. Feeling special or important – and valued – these are not bad or wrong feelings. But we need to keep those feelings in perspective. Let’s take a look at one little man in the Bible who did just that. 

Zacchaeus was his name. He was a tax collector and wealthy but not very well-liked because he cheated people. He knew Jesus was an important man and that Jesus was a comin’ to town. The folks gathered in excited anticipation of His arrival. Zacchaeus couldn’t see over the crowd of people as Jesus walked through the village, so he did what any boy/man, problem-solver type person would do – he climbed a tree so he could see. And just as Jesus walked by the tree Zacchaeus was sitting in, He stopped. I imagine Zac’s eyes grew wide, his heart began to pump, and if ominous music had been available, it would have played…duh, duh, duh, dun! 

Jesus looked straight up in that tree and saw Zacchaeus sitting up there. (Jesus knew he was going to be up there long before Zacchaeus even took his first step to climb that tree, by the way.) And Jesus called his name, “Zacchaeus.” Whoa! What do you think went through Zacchaeus’ mind? Maybe, “Yikes! He knows my name!” 

Then Jesus does something to shock Zacchaeus’ and knock everyone’s socks off. Oh wait, they wore sandals… Well, you get the idea. Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner. Now if that were me, my first thought would be, “Is the house clean?” Next thought, “Do I have enough food for an extra person at the table and is it good enough for ‘this’ person?” 

But Zacchaeus doesn’t waste his thoughts on any of those things. Luke 19:6 says “he came down at once and gladly welcomed Him.” Zacchaeus quickly comes down the tree, no hesitation whatsoever, and takes Jesus home with him. 

Did Jesus make Zacchaeus feel special? You bet! Did Jesus cause Zacchaeus to have feelings of importance? Absolutely! How could he not feel these things? This was THE Jesus – a very important man who is paying attention to him and even knows him by name. And these feelings are okay for Zacchaeus, and I’ll tell you why. 

Let’s finish the story… So Jesus goes to Zac’s house, they share a meal and Zac truly meets the Savior. He gets convicted in his heart of his wrongdoing and repents, vowing to give the money back that he had cheated people out of. 

I imagine people are amazed the day Zacchaeus knocks on their door and gives them their money back, with interest no less. I am going to take some liberty here because the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what happened when Zacchaeus returned the money, but we can imagine based on what our reaction might be. It might have gone something like this: 

A knock comes at the door. Opening it and seeing Zacchaeus, the resident of the house says, “I already paid my taxes.” 

Zacchaeus replies, “No, no here, take the money back and here is four times what I stole from you.” 

The resident says, “Really?” 

They might have asked, “Hey, what’s up with you? What’s changed? Why are you giving me this money back?” And Zacchaeus most likely would tell them the story, if they didn’t already know it. He might have said something like, “I met Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. He called me by name and came to my house for dinner and said to me, ‘Today salvation has come to this house…’ (Luke 19:9) He saved me.” 

Zacchaeus would make it about Jesus and what Jesus did for him, not about what Zacchaeus was doing in righting his wrongs. Zacchaeus was making Jesus famous. And that is what we are meant to do. In our words and actions, our work and play, we are meant to make Jesus famous because of what He has done in our lives. How He changed us. It is called giving God the glory for who He is and what He does in all circumstances. 

It is okay to have feelings of being special and important as long as we don’t leave God out of the equation. 

I am special because God made me special. 

I am important because of who I am in Christ. God in me makes me important. 

All of me – who I am, what I say, what I do – should point to God, should point people to God, to make HIM famous. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It is all about Him. 


Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired Christian preschool teacher with a teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education. She has served the Lord in children’s ministry for over 40 years and is currently on staff at Rockharbor Church. 


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