And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
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Cornelius a Lapide
And when they saw it, they all murmured. ("All"—the Pharisees, and the Jews their parasites, who hated the publicans.) They murmured, saying that he was gone, &c.
The publicans were held by the Jews to be impious, unjust, wicked, and they often were such. Some think that "sinner" here means that Zacchus was a Gentile and idolater. Such is the opinion of Tertullian, SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, Bede, and from them Maldonatus. And that Zacchus speaks of a restitution of things exacted so unjustly, which was of a natural law, and not ordered by Moses. S. Chrysostom, in his sermon on Zacchus, says, "He was a son of Abraham by faith, not by birth; by merit, not by descent; by devotion, not by race." But the contrary is equally probable, perhaps more Song of Solomon , namely, that Zacchus was a Jew, not a Gentile1. Because, ver9 , he is called a son of Abraham2. Because Christ only conversed with Jews, for He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Hence He is called by S. Paul "minister of the circumcision," Romans 15:83. Because Zacchus is a Hebrew name4. Because the Jews would not have been silent on the matter but would have brought it against Jesus that he held communion with the Gentiles when the Messiah was promised to the Jews alone.