Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Sycamore Tree
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Luke 19:1-10: 
“Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was one of the most influential Jews in the Roman tax-collecting business, and he had become very rich.  He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowds. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree beside the road, so he could watch from there.  When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! for I must be a guest in your home today.”   Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.  But the crowds were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.  Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”  Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a son of Abraham.   And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost.”

Many no doubt, were converted to the faith of Christ of whom no account is kept in the Gospels; but the extraordinary conversion of some, as that of Zacchaeus, is recorded. The name Zacchaeus means pure or justified. He is the man who overcame obstacles.

Zacchaeus was a Jew, a wealthy man of Jerusalem and a tax collector for the Roman Government which was at this time occupying Israel. He was the chief among the publicans. His job and position do not speak well of him before his fellow Jews. Yet, God did not despise him. Christ came to save sinners, even the chief of sinners. Earlier in Chapter 5:31-32, during the conversion of another publican and tax collector, Matthew, Jesus Himself had said “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Zacchaeus was not brought to Christ by hardship or want, for he was very rich. What then brought him to Christ? In verse three we see that “he had a great curiosity to see Jesus.” Zacchaeus was as eager as any school boy in all Jericho to see who Jesus was. And like any school boy, he ran and climbed up into a Sycamore tree to see Him as He passed that way. It is natural to be curious to see one whose name or fame has filled our ears; at least, we shall be able to say hereafter that we have seen such and such great man. Zacchaeus was determined to see Jesus. How many of us are truly determined to see Christ today? If we shall be determined today to see Him with our eye of faith, we shall surely see Him.

Overcoming the Obstacles

Two things stood between Zacchaeus and the realization of his curiosity – His own stature and the crowd. When faced with this difficulty, Zacchaeus had a choice between dropping his curiosity and seeking a way to overcome his obstacles. We had earlier said that he was as curious as any other school boy in Jericho. He chose to behave like a school boy – forgetting his position, class and wealth. When Christ sees simple things like this it moves His heart. He said of the children – “of such is the Kingdom of heaven” He was wont to say such as often as He sees simplicity like that, and self forgetfulness, impulsiveness or anything else that was truly childlike. Let us briefly consider these two obstacles and see how they are obstacles that today prevent us from having a full view of Jesus Christ.

1. The Self:

Here Zacchaeus himself was his own obstacle. Many people today are prevented from seeing Christ by their own selves. In Zacchaeus it was shortness. In yours it may be self-will, pursuit of position and wealth, for some it may be desire to reach the top in education, in others it may be own wisdom or pride. Paul says that the preaching of the Gospel is to the Greek, foolishness and to the Jews a stumbling block. To some so-called wise men today, it is too foolish to be true and reasonable. Look inwards today and see what your obstacle is. I was the other day, speaking at the Open Air Service, I made an Altar call. I saw one girl in the crowd struggling with herself. She was convinced she needs Christ, but pride and what people would say nearly denied her of salvation. To some it may be beauty. Are you in that shoe? Imitate Zacchaeus today and you will be saved. He overcame his difficulty – up the sycamore tree he went and became taller than all the rest! If we would see Jesus we too must scramble higher than ourselves. It may not be easy, but it can be done. It costs to be saved, at least your ego.

2. The Crowd:

The irony of it is that the same crowd that was enthusiastic about Christ was an obstacle that blocked Zacchaeus’ view. Dear Christian Brother and sister are you blocking another person’s view of Christ? If you are not allowing the light of Christ in you to shine, how do you hope they will see Christ? Many of us are unaware of the unconscious influence we exert on people. If you don’t know it, more people are watching you than you can ever imagine. I am sure that that was what Paul realised when he wrote to the Romans in Chapter 14:7 “None of us lives for himself only; none of us dies for himself only” and later to the Corinthians in his first epistle in Chapter 8:9-13: “Be careful however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin. Suppose a person whose conscience is weak in this matter sees you who have so called knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol; will not this encourage him to eat food offered to idols? And so, this weak person your brother for whom Christ died, will perish because of your knowledge! And in this way you will be sinning against Christ by sinning against your Christian brothers and wounding their weak conscience. So then, if food makes my brother sin, I will never eat meat again, so as not to make my brother fall into sin.”   Do you realize that many have either come to Christ or rejected Him because of your life? Zacchaeus would not have seen Jesus if he depended on the crowd. 

On the other hand, if Jesus Himself had heeded the reaction of the crowd, He would have passed without noticing Zacchaeus there on the sycamore tree. The action of Christ typifies the action of God to the sinner. If God were to depend on the comments you and I pass on anybody before He accepts the one into His Kingdom, many will not be saved. But thanks to God that He acts independent of our recommendation.

Zacchaeus action tells us that those who sincerely desire to see Christ must use the proper means for gaining a sight of Him. They must forget their gravity, their immediate obstacles and raise themselves to a sight of Christ.

Answering the Call

In verses 5-6, Jesus took notice of the efforts of Zacchaeus and therefore gave him a further call to acquaintance. When you made the first brace of your sin and came to Christ for cleansing, He invited you to a closer fellowship. He made you joint heirs with Him of His Father’s Kingdom. So is the magnanimity of God’s love and in v.6 Christ invited Himself to the home of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus’ ambition when he climbed the tree was to see Jesus, but here Jesus invited Him to eat with Him, converse with Him and share his all with Him. Christ blessed him and made him a blessing to others. He said “Hurry down Zacchaeus because I must stay in your house today”, and Zacchaeus welcomed Him with great joy. Did you notice that Christ called him by name? So does God call every believer by name? Christ here was saying what He later revealed to John in Revelation 3:20 “If any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in.” Zacchaeus opened and Christ came. Jesus called Zacchaeus, saved him and made him a disciple.

"Show it, Show it!"

You love me - show it
Photo Source: Elvis Payne
Verse 8: Two birds were once perched on a tree branch and they were both singing.  One was singing “I love you, I love you”; and the other would reply “show it, show it!” When Moses came down from the mount in Exodus 32:26, he said “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me” If you are saved, show it by your change of life. Paul said to the Corinthians “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation; old things have passed away, all things have become new.” Zacchaeus showed the completeness of his salvation by three actions:

(a) He publicly declared for Christ;

(b) He abandoned his old life for a new life and

(c) And making restitution where it is necessary.

 All these showed that there is a change of heart. Many of us are ashamed of being identified as Christians. Many of us cannot be said to have changed one bit. Let me ask you – Do people know that you are a Christian in your class, by your utterances and manner of conversation, by your attitude to things, by the way you dress? Or, are you like just every other person? The Bible records that the Sanhedrin trying Peter and John recognized that they have been with Christ (Acts 4:13) and they saw the face of Stephen as that of an angel (Acts 6:15)

Let us look at what Zacchaeus did to show his change of heart.
  • He gave half of his estate to the poor. No doubt, he must have been a very rich man. This is a fruit of repentance. He now loves the poor who he would otherwise sell for their taxation.
  • He was conscious to himself that he did not get all he had honestly and fairly. He made restitution. Have you recognized that what you unfairly and dishonestly acquired is not yours and should be returned to the rightful owner? Do not think that you can use it to give to God – that would be bribery and hypocrisy. You cannot give what is not yours.

Verses 9-10: Christ approved and accepted Zacchaeus’ conversion. Zacchaeus is here declared a happy man for Christ Himself declared –”Salvation has come to this house today.” Why do you think Jesus said that? Simply because Jesus has come into his house and where Christ comes, He brings salvation along with Him. This is made possible by Zacchaeus’ conversion. Has Christ come to your house? Salvation can today come to your house if you will allow Christ to come to your house by being converted this hour. Zacchaeus because of his life and profession was alienated from the family of Abraham – the family of the faithful hence he was called the publican. You, like him, because of sin is alienated from the family of God, hence you are called the children of wrath and disobedience, but if today you invite Christ to your life you, like Zacchaeus, will become a child of Abraham.

What Christ did in accepting Zacchaeus was in consonance with His design and intention for coming into the world.  Christ has in several places stated that He had come to save the sinners, the publicans and the lost. In Matthew 9:13, He said: “I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts” and in Matthew 18:11-12 Jesus said: “For, the Son of man is come to save that which was lost” How think you! If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go into the mountains and seek that which is gone astray?” His design was and is to save.

We all here are in one way like Zacchaeus – we have problems and obstacles beclouding our view of Christ but most of us here have not, like Zacchaeus overcome these obstacles. Some who are here, and who have, do not live a life that shows the light in them. It is not late if today you will make a change of heart. God is still knocking and waiting to save. Will you give Him a chance?

God bless you all.

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