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6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”

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5. Zaccheus, make haste, and come down. It is a remarkable instance of favor, that the Lord anticipates Zaccheus, and does not wait for his invitation, but of his own accord asks lodging at his house. We know how hateful, nay, how detestable the name of publican at that time was; and we shall find that this is shortly afterwards mentioned by Luke. It is therefore astonishing kindness in the Son of God to approach a man, from whom the great body of men recoil, and that before he is requested to do so. But we need not wonder, if he bestows this honor on one who was already drawn to him by a secret movement of the Spirit; for it was a more valuable gift to dwell in his heart than to enter his house. But by this expression he made it evident, that he is never sought in vain by those who sincerely desire to know him; for Zaccheus obtained vastly more than he had expected. Besides, the great readiness of Zaccheus to obey, his hastening to come down from the tree, and his joy in receiving Christ, exhibit still more clearly the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit; for, though he did not yet possess a pure faith, yet this submissiveness and obedience must be regarded as the beginning of faith.

7. And when they saw it, they all murmured. The inhabitants of the town — and, perhaps, some of Christ’s followers — murmur that he goes to lodge with a man who is looked upon as wicked and infamous, even though nobody invited him. It is thus that the world disregards the offer of the grace of God, but complains bitterly 678678     “Et cependant est envieux et marri;” — “and yet is envious and offended.” when it is conveyed to others. But let us consider how unjust this murmuring was. They think it unreasonable that Christ should bestows so great an honor on a wicked man; for in this passage, as in many others, the word sinner is not taken in the ordinary sense, 679679     “Et ne signifie pas ce que communeement nous appelons pecheur;” — “and does not mean what we usually call a sinner. but denotes a man of disgraceful and scandalous life. Let us suppose that Zaccheus was a person of this description. Still, we ought first to inquire for what purpose Christ chose to become his guest; for, while out of doors men are murmuring, within the house God displays magnificently the glory of this name, and refutes their wicked calumny.

The conversion of Zaccheus was an astonishing work of God, and yet there was no good reason why Zaccheus should be marked with infamy. He had the charge of collecting the taxes. Now to collect taxes was no crime in itself, but men of that class were exceedingly despised and hated by the Jews, because they reckoned it to be in the highest degree unjust that they should pay tribute. But whatever might be the character of Zaccheus, still the kindness of Christ ought not to be blamed, but commended, in not refusing his assistance to a wretched man, to rescue him from destruction, and bring him to salvation. And therefore the offense which was wickedly taken did not hinder him from proceeding to execute his Father’s command. With such magnanimity ought all his ministers to be endued, as to think more highly of the salvation of one soul than of the murmurs which all ignorant persons may utter, and not to desist from their duty, even though all their actions and words may expose them to reproaches.