1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of  Luke,  The Saving of Zacchaeus  - Lesson 203


Luke  19:1-10,  And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8And 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. 9And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.


As we have learned from previous passages the Lord Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. 


He has told them that he will be delivered unto the Gentiles, that he shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spit on.


He has told them that he shall be scourged, and put to death: but on the third day he shall rise again.


So we would expect that this would be a sober and a mournful journey to Jerusalem however this is not the case for our Lord always was about his father’s business and his father’s business was for him to seek and to save that which was lost. 


We will later see, even as he hung on the cross, that he continued to be in the soul saving business as he ministered to the crucified thief who was dying on the cross next to him.


He lovingly continued to carry out his father’s business in spite of the fact that he was facing such horrible suffering and death.


We have already seen him work his father’s business when his journey was interrupted by the blind man Bartimaeus who called upon the Lord to give him sight. 


There was no mourning called for there, but rejoicing broke out on the part of Bartimaeus who immediately received his sight, and followed Jesus, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Wherever Jesus went he brought a time of joy and uplifting. 


No long faces were called for in his presence for he was about the “saving of souls” business.


And in this passage we continue to see this business carried out by the Lord Jesus Christ in the life of a small man of stature named Zacchaeus.


Every time I think of this man Zacchaeus, the children’s rhyme, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man” pops into my head, but it also combines with another rhyme of my youth and it comes out this way:


Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he, he called for his pipe and he called for his bowl and he called for his fiddlers three. 

You can tell that I was not raised with the right rhymes in my head for that which is more embedded, that of Old King Cole was a merry old soul, combines with that which came later. 


But the true rhyme is this: 

Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed him by, He looked up in the tree,
And he said, “Zacchaeus, you come down from there;
For I'm going to your house today, for I'm going to your house today.”

Zacchaeus came down from that tree, as happy as he could be,
He gave his money to the poor, and said: “What a better man I'll be."

So Zacchaeus is a familiar character to our children, as well he should be, for he is an example of a sinner saved by grace through faith.  

We are told what kind of sinner he is, by Luke telling us that he was a tax collector.


It is interesting to ponder the habit we have of classifying sinners. 


For I think we tend to classify ourselves out of sin by focusing on types of sins that we do not engage in and thereby dimming our focus upon our own sin. 


But God does not classify sin in the way that we do for he simply says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. 


He does not use adjectives to describe sinners, such as dirty rotten sinners because sinners are just sinners in God’s book and all are worthy of death regardless of the depth or type of sin that is done.


There is no sinner who does not need the mercy of God. 


We have seen contacts with tax collectors by Jesus Christ on earlier occasions. 


The Pharisees condemned Jesus for eating and drinking with “tax-gatherers and sinners.”


They equated the term “tax-gatherer” with “sinners”.


We know that Jesus offended the Pharisees when He told the parable of the penitent “tax-collector” and the self-righteous “Pharisee” in chapter 18 of Luke.


Especially when it was the repentant tax-gatherer who went away justified, while the Pharisee went away unjustified.


There was no happy ending for the Pharisees in that story!


Now Zaccheus was not just a tax collector, he was a “chief tax-collector” and we are told that he was very rich. 


I think the inference is plain that he was very rich by his vocation, that of tax collecting and its tendency for crooked dealings.


But for some unexplained reason, Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus.


The fame of Christ or course preceded his coming to any area and the word had been spread that Jesus was coming to Jericho.


But Zaccheus had a problem for he was a short man and short men have to be clever if they are to accomplish their desires.


Go to any parade and you will see cleverness displayed by those who cannot see. 


I remember well the cardboard periscopes used by people trying to see over the heads of the crowd or those who climbed light poles or trees in order to see. 


But visualize Zaccheus bouncing up and down trying to see above the taller folks in front of him but his efforts were still unsatisfying.


He did not allow his shortness of stature to keep him from doing what he wanted to do. 


There was a reason why Zaccheus was the chief of the tax collectors for he had some grit to him.


He looked down the street, where he knew Jesus would have to pass and found a tree to climb in order to see over the heads of the crowds.


Now think about this scene.  A little rich man climbing up a sycamore tree to see Jesus.


Here is the chief tax collector, well known and mostly despised by everyone, throwing off any dignity that he had in order to get a good view of the Lord Jesus Christ.


He didn’t seem to worry about what others would think, for his determination was fixed upon seeing Christ.


This same determination was in the heart of the blind man, Bartimaeus.


Both men wanted to see Jesus. Both men would not be stopped by hindrances.


It is an example of seek and ye shall find.  And both men were rewarded by the Lord. 


The difference between the two was that Bartimaeus called out to Jesus.


He wanted to be noticed and brought to Jesus.


On the other hand Zaccheus, may have wanted to remain unnoticed.


It was not a very dignified thing for a man of his stature to do.


I think we can say that it was even child like for him to climb that tree and that is why this story appeals so much to children.


But Jesus took note of Zaccheus’ heart and He stopped, looked up, called him by name, and told him that he must come to his house.


Don’t you suppose that Zaccheus’ heart skipped upon hearing his own name from the lips of Jesus Christ?  


How did he know who he was?


And then on top of that the astounding news that he was inviting himself to the home of Zaccheus?


Now Bartimaeus the blind beggar called out to the Savior for mercy and received it.


But Zaccheus did not call upon the Lord, and instead the Lord called to him.


The Scriptures clearly teach that no one who truly comes to Jesus for mercy, on the basis of faith, will be turned away.


They also teach that anyone who comes to Christ for salvation does not come on their own initiative, but is drawn by God:


While Romans 10:13 says, 3For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.


John 6:37, tells us that the Father gives to Christ those who will call upon him.


7All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.


It is therefore God who both begins and finishes the work of salvation.


We are therefore given examples of how this is played out in the lives of Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus.


One called upon the name of the Lord and one was called by the Lord.


5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.


So note Christ’s imperative here. 


He must abide at the house of Zacchaeus for all that his father gave him will come to him. 


Jesus Christ knew that Zacchaeus was given to him by the father and therefore it was a must for him to abide with him.


I must be about my Father’s business and Zacchaeus was his Father’s business.  


Amongst all the vast crowd he found little Zacchaeus in the tree.


Also notice the contrast here between who the Pharisees received and who Jesus received.


The Pharisees would say that such a person as this great sinner should not be given the hospitality of your home nor should you go to his home.


It was well believed that a person would be defiled by doing so.


But Jesus not only accepted an invitation, in this case he invited Himself.  


It is one thing to be gracious in accepting an invitation but it is another thing to press yourself upon a sinner in order to dine with him.


You may do the first in order to not offend but we see here an example of the grace of our Lord for he was truly busy in seeking and saving the lost. 


He was not concerned about himself and any possible defilement but was concerned about the salvation of sinners. 


He was not waiting for sinners to come to him but he was truly seeking sinners, going out of his way that they might trust him.


But all who saw and heard what was going on: murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.


This was not the reaction of a few, for Luke tells us that they all began to grumble.


But Jesus explains his actions for his actions are the result of his mission, that of saving the lost.


The Pharisees were concerned about their personal holiness to the neglect of the lost. 


My, how you can be so clean but still go to hell. 


You can be the most moral and righteous person but still occupy your place in hell for all eternity. 


Jesus Christ majors on the major.


And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.


Jesus came to seek and to save sinners.


He did not come with the prime purpose to associate with the rich and the powerful.


He did not come to provide positions and power for the disciples.


He came to save sinners and in order to do so, He must associate with sinners.


So in doing this he did not cater to the sensitivities and the social customs of His day so he went where sinners were bringing the good news to them so they could be saved.


Jesus’ whole ministry was governed by His purpose of seeking and saving sinners for this was and is the Father’s business.


Did Zacchaeus think that he had sought the Lord?


He had, but the Lord had also sought Him and because of this, salvation had come to his house.


And we immediately see the outgrowth of this salvation when even before Zacchaeus entered his house he told Jesus what he was going to do as a result of Jesus’ coming into his life.


He would give half of his possessions to the poor.


In addition, he would repay four-fold anyone whom he had cheated.


In the case of the rich young ruler Jesus told him to get rid of his riches because they were a hindrance to him coming to Christ. 


There was no such command here for this man had come to Christ and determined to do this, as an act of gratitude, not as a duty which he would grudgingly perform.


He had two things in mind. 


In order to do this he determined to give half of his wealth to the poor and with the other half give back four times that which he had swindled. 


I don’t know if this left him without money for we are not told. 


But there was no requirement on the part of Christ to dispose of all that he had for it was not a hindrance to his coming to the Lord but instead it was to be used for the Lord’s purposes.


But Zaccheus chose to use the most stringent requirements of the law to get things right before the Lord.


Zacchaeus was willing to suppose his theft was of the worst kind, and he was willing to make things right with this frame of mind. He did not minimize his sin.


What an example of what salvation brings!  Salvation is not of works but salvation produces works. 


When salvation comes into a man or woman’s life that man or women is radically changed. 


It goes from perhaps pretending to serve the Lord grudgingly to that of serving the Lord with gladness of heart and with a great desire to fulfill his will because he now loves the Lord.


Salvation is a radical event, bringing men from darkness to light, from death to life, and from evil to righteousness.


Genuine conversion produces change in the lives of those who are saved.


Zacchaeus evidences a genuine conversion by the change which can be seen—a sudden change in his actions.


Men may not understand the change which has occurred in their lives when they have met the Lord and been saved, but they will see change.


That is part of what the book of James is all about. The sinner, Zacchaeus, is now a saint.  Salvation has come to his house. He will never be the same again.


It is interesting to note that in the case of blind Bartimaeus the crowds rejoiced and praised God but no record is given of such things accompanying the conversion of Zacchaeus. 


I wonder if many who witnessed this could not stand to see such a sinner as this being welcomed into the family of God.