Friday, May 6, 2016
Salvation Comes to Zacchaeus
The Lord Jesus is going on his journey to Jerusalem, he is going to the feast of the Passover and on the way he comes to Jericho. It's a six hour walk from Jericho to Jerusalem and as Jesus is passing through Jericho (which was a fertile and prosperous city) he was surrounded by a throng of people. V3 There are two main characters in this story, Jesus and Zacchaeus..
V1 Jesus was coming up through Jericho through a large crowd of people. He is now a very famous and controversial person who has healed many sick people, exorcised demons, performed miracles, and most important he has been teaching and preaching for 3 years. Crowds follow him everywhere he goes, but they say he is an old testament Prophet returned. The powers that be in Israel, the religious authorities and leaders, hate Jesus because during his 3 year ministry he has exposed their sin and hypocrisy of religion. He has unmasked their disobedience to God and their love of human ideas. He has shown that the leaders are sinners just like everybody else and they hate him for it because the religious always think that they are better than everybody else. They have tried to trick Jesus and he not only refutes them but he makes them look foolish. All these leaders want Jesus dead and they are willing to stoop to any level and use any means to accomplish their goal of murder. So much for their religion. But in doing all this, these leaders are exactly fulfilling the plan that God had ordained before the world was even made. So here is Jesus coming up the main street of Jericho.
And here is Zacchaeus V2-4 "And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was very rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way." Zacchaeus doesn't have the credentials of Jesus, the common people hate Zacchaes because he is a tax collector (publican) and not only that but (V2) he was the chief tax collector, the boss of all the tax collectors. Tax collectors in Israel were known as traitors because they worked for Rome and hated by the common people. Zacchaeus was rich (abundant in his wealth) but this day Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming, he must already of heard of Jesus. He wants to see Jesus, he had a casual interest and wanted to see who he was.
In V3 we see that Zacchaeus was seeking to see Jesus but he had a problem because he was small of stature, little. He couldn't see over the shoulders of the crowd and no one is going to move out of the way for him. But Zacchaeus was resourceful, he ran before the crowd V4 and climbed up into a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus. However, what Zacchaeus did not know was that his plan is God's plan. Untroubled by dignity, this little man climbed up into the tree so he could see Jesus and imagine his surprise when Jesus looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus make haste and come down; for today I must abide at thy house " (V5)
Jesus called Zacchaeus by name. Jesus calls his sheep by his name. The word haste means speed.. Jesus did not say he would like to stay at your house, but that he "must" stay, it was part of his divine mission. Right now, this day, Christ calls him by name and from that moment Zacchaeus is a changed man. When you read your gospels, any time Jesus says "I must" they are connected with obeying his father's word. A divine command.
V6-8 "And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." Zacchaeus joyfully received Jesus but the crown murmured and complained. They thought that Christ should not befriend a sinner. But God allows room for sinners to repent, religious people don't. God allows room for sinners to turn from their sin. But how religious people always misunderstand Christ. In contrast to the crowd, Zacchaeus presented himself formally to Jesus and made a formal announcement and said "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold" What a change. Just being in Christ's presence, Zacchaeus immediately saw his own guilt, his sin, he confessed what he had done wrong, he repented and he was going to put right what he had come wrong. The loving concern that Jesus had shown to him made Zacchaeus a changed man. What he said was not the normal action of a tax collector. When Jesus comes into a life, that person says and feels their guilt, they change and they put right what they have done wrong. Jesus had not said anything about Zacchaeus' riches, just his presence made all the difference and that is all it takes, to observe the presence of Jesus. Further proof that Zacchaeus has changed.
V9-10 "And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." There is the proof. Jesus says that this day salvation has come to this house. Zacchaeus was saved this day. Jesus said that Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham. Those that have faith are Abraham's children. The purpose of Christ's coming is to seek and to save that which is lost. Jesus seeks and he saves: he saves, not us. That is his whole purpose in coming to earth.
Jesus had come to Jericho to meet Zacchaeus, it was God's plan. Zacchaeus had a casual interest, but he did not know that Jesus had come to save him. We never know that until the day it dawns on us. Christ sought Zacchaeus and called him by name and Zacchaeus was saved. Zacchaeus thought that he was inspecting Jesus but what was really happening was that Christ was inspecting him.
If you are reading this and consumed in your interest more than normal, before you were aware of it, maybe Jesus has determined that he would come and save you. There you are as a sinner and the Saviour of sinners is here. Is he calling you by name? If he is, your very name he has named from before the foundation of the world. "Come down today, I must abide at your house" and the Saviour of sinners is seeking and saving his lost sheep. How far has that Saviour gone to save sinners? It has been a very costly journey for Jesus to save sinners, through arrest, scourging with whips that were loaded with bone, through the crown of thorns on his head, through his crucifixion, through bearing the wrath of God for sin. To seek and to save that which was lost.
Are you lost today? Never have you been lost more than today because you are lost a week longer than you were before and yet even today the Shepherd of souls is seeking and saving the lost. Listen! do you hear? lost person, do you hear your name being called? Today salvation has come to you. Listen for his call, answer his call. Are you ready for eternity?
Confess that you are lost sinner, trust in Jesus, and be saved.
The notes above were made by myself from the sermon by Paul Dowling of Whiteabbey Congregational (Reformed) at Sermon Audio.