Zacchaeus: Only a Momma’s Love

Text: Luke 19:1-10

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” —Matthew 9:12

One day, a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes when she noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast to her brunette head. She inquisitively asked, “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?” Her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then asked, “Momma, how come all of Grandma’s hairs are white?”

Oh the bliss of parenting! Perhaps nothing teaches us more about unconditional love than caring for the ones we were responsible for bringing into this world.

Kate Samperi said,

“Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: Love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved.”

You’ve heard the expression “a face only a mother could love.” Well, Zacchaeus was the kind of person that only a mother could love (Luke 19:1-10). He was a corrupt, much hated tax collector. People in his profession were despised not only by the Romans, but also their countrymen. Their own people hated Jewish tax collectors like Zacchaeus because they were known for cheating the taxpayers, plus they worked for Rome—traitors to their own people. They were esteemed as collaborators with the enemy.

When Zacchaeus encountered Jesus, it changed everything. As Jesus dined with the tax collector, the crowds grumbled. They were disgusted that Jesus would associate himself with such a man—a despicable “sinner.” But this story shows how God loves those unpleasant, unlovable people whom we tend to write off as hopeless. Zacchaeus is blown away by this expression of unconditional love by the Savior. The transformation of his heart is visible in the way he shows repentance, paying back restitution fourfold to all those he had cheated.

Jesus cheerfully proclaimed that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house. In response to those who murmured from a distance, He says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Elsewhere Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Matthew 9:12).

Jesus told His followers to love others “as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Not always an easy thing to do. Yet this is what our hope lies on—that God loves the sinner, of which I am. Aren’t you glad that God loved you when you were unlovable? Aren’t you glad that God looked beyond your faults and saw your need? None of us are worthy of salvation when Jesus meets us on life’s jarring road. Yet, His love breaks through all those voices that scream, “ugly, unloved, and unwanted”—and He dines with us at the table of acceptance.

If you’ve experienced unconditional love, where will you share it with the world? Think about it as you seek to abide in Him this week.


Heavenly Father, thank you for breaking through all those voices of condemnation. Your love broke through even when I didn’t deserve it. You brought me to your table of forgiveness and acceptance. I pray You teach me how to love others with the same measure of love that I have received. Help me to be merciful, as I have received mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. Who are the most despised people in our society today?
  2. What does the story of Zacchaeus teach us about how we view unpleasant people?
  3. What do the actions of Zacchaeus reveal about the power of God to change hearts?
  4. How can we guard our hearts from becoming judgmental of others?
  5. Where can you demonstrate unconditional love this week?

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