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. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, «Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.» So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, «He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.»
But 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.»
Jesus said to him, «Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.»
Why did the people call Zacchaeus a sinner? Because even though a Jew (son of Abraham), he collected taxes for the Roman occupiers of the land. Not only that, most tax collectors skimmed money off the top of their collections, filling their own purses with cash while their neighbors went without. In this way they cheated their own people and those for whom they worked. But things changed quickly once the little man met the kind Saviour.