The government, during the time of Jesus, was very oppressive to many of its peoples. It believed in taxation without representation. It was common practice for Rome to use people of one particular ethnic group to be tax collectors to people with similar ethnic backgrounds. The Jewish people were no-less different.
Zacchaeus was one such tax collector. He was a Jewish tax collector to the Jewish people for the oppressive Roman government (cf. Luke 19:9). Therefore, Zacchaeus, and other such tax collectors, were considered traitors and sinners among the common people (cf. Luke 19:7). They were considered part of the government oppression rather than "those" who did a responsible job.
The tax collector was commonly known to be corrupt. They were usually known to tax beyond what was required which they would use to "line-their-own-pockets" (cf. Luke 3:8). However, Zacchaus was a man searching for something beyond treachery, oppression, and government kickbacks. He wanted hope, help, and Jesus.
Zacchaes wanted to show fruits of his repentance by offering to pay back those whom he defrauded (Luke 19:8 cf. Matthew 3:7-9). He sought to change his life and Jesus recognized his true heart. "And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to his house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the son of man came to seek and save the lost'" (Luke 19:9-10).
There are people in this world who defraud, lie, cheat, and steal. They will be judged accordingly. However, it is these people that Jesus also came to save. Are you the Lord's tool?
The Lord's humbled . . . John A. Reeves