THE SALVATION OF ZACHEUS
Message preached at Hagan Baptist Church
Hagan, Georgia July 18, 2004 by Pastor Tom R
INTRO: The longer I live, the more convinced I become that it is not only
healthy for our souls to read the specific accounts of the salvation experiences
of people whom God saved in Scripture, but it is absolutely necessary to read
these various accounts to keep our understanding biblical. It is amazing what we
discover when we read the Word of God. It is also amazing what we do not find
when we read these divinely inspired and preserved passages which deal with Godís
intervention via grace
in the lives of sinners. Let us read this account and hopefully it will
resonate in our hearts as the familiar and gracious dealings which the Savior
has had with us.
I. Please note several items which we might call a personal caricature
19;1 The text tells us that he was the chief among the publicans. A
publican was a professional tax collector. When Rome came to Jerusalem, they
made an offer to the Jewish people. Fight us or submit to us. The Jewish nation
chose submission. As is always the case, the conquered pay tribute taxes to the
victor. Someone had to collect those taxes, be accountable for those taxes and
turn the money over to Rome. It seems only natural that local people who knew
the customs and the language were chosen for this unpleasant task.
Zacheus was not only a publican but the text tells us He was the chief
among the publicans. This meant that he had worked up the corporate
ladder in the business. He acquired more authority in his position than the
regular grassroots publican. Zacheus had obtained an authority position over
other publicans. With this promotion to chief, as is usually the case, there was
more responsibility but it meant he would now accrue more wealth.
Please note something else the text tells us. He was rich. Once
a publican learned the ropes and discovered how the game was played, he could
inflate the amount of taxes owed to the Roman government, overcharge people, and
make a huge profit. And who was going to argue with one who had the power and
weight of Roman authority behind him. The attitude of Rome was this. We levy
this amount of taxes for a geographical area. Give us what we demand. What you
make on the side is your business. If you wish to overcharge, cheat, lie to your
own people, then that guilt is on you. We donít really care as long as we
receive the tribute money.
This position opened the door for dishonesty and extortion. unfair. Because
publicans acted by the authority and sanction of the Roman government, the
Jewish people had no appeal. Like it or lump, they paid what the publican
I can see Zacheus as he looks over the books and realizes that he is in a
position to acquire great sums of money for his personal gain. This is a real
test of character for any man or woman. Being placed in a position where you
handle great sums of money can be a real trial. My son is involved in law
enforcement. He has been involved in several raids where thousands of dollars of
drug money have been seized. We often talk about the temptation to pocket that
kind of dirty money. Many good people have been ruined by the temptation to take
money in a situation like that. Apparently the temptation was too strong for
II. THE CURIOSITY THAT BROUGHT HIM INTO CONTACT WITH CHRIST.
vs;3 He wanted to get a look at the Lord to see Jesus who He was.
Human nature being what it is, Zacheus undoubtedly did not want someone as
famous as Jesus of Nazareth to pass through his city and not at least get a
glimpse of Him. There is something exhilarating to the human spirit to be able
to say, ďI was there, I saw Him in person.Ē I know what He looks like.Ē
There were 2 immediate obstacles that needed to be overcome.
1. The press was an obstacle. (That word does not mean news reporters
were covering the event.) Simply stated, Zacheus was squeezed out. It means
there was a large crowd, a mass of humanity packed together that prevented
Zacheus from getting a look.
2. There was another problem for Zacheus. He was little of stature. I wonder
if that is acceptable to our politically correct friends. They would probably
say something like this. Zacheus was vertically challenged.
He overcame the obstacles. Verse 4 declares he climbed up into a sycamore
tree. We might say that Zacheus had the best seat in the house. He simply had to
remain in that tree and wait until Jesus came into view.
III. THE CALL WHICH BROUGHT ZACHEUS INTO PERSONAL CONTACT WITH CHRIST. vs. 5
The call was a personal call. Zacheus
Notice the Lord called him by name. Jn 10:27 My sheep hear my voice
and I know them and they follow me.
It was a punctual call. Make haste and come down.
Notice something in the text which we must not overlook. The verb mood in
the text is imperative. That means that a command is involved. Here is what this
means. The Lord is not simply inviting Zacheus to come down. He is commanding
him to make haste and come down. It was a gracious command, it was a loving
command but the fact remains it was a command.
But notice again it was a powerful call. We know it was a powerful call
because Zacheus made haste and came down. This call is what is known as the
effectual call. The effectual call is gracious call given by the Lord through
the Spirit of God which secures the obedience of the sinner in such a way, that
the sinner yields to the command and obeys the voice of the Lord. There is
another call which goes out to every person who hears the gospel. This is what
is often called the general call. The general call commands men and women and
boys and girls to repent of their sins and receive the forgiveness of God as it
is offered in the gospel. Hearers will spurn this call. Hearers will resist this
call. And probably my friend, you yourself were guilty of resisting this general
call of the gospel. But the personal, punctual, powerful call overcame our
natural hostility and prejudice toward the Son of God and His gospel. If I had
not heard that call, I would still be out in the world in sin headed down the
road that leads to destruction. May I be so bold as to suggest that you also
would still be on that same destructive road if you had not received the
effectual call of the gospel.
IV So far we noted the caricature of Zacheus, the curiosity of Zacheus, and
the call of Zacheus. Now last of all letís note the conversation between
the Lord and Zacheus. V8-10
Verse 8 declares what Zacheus stood and said to the Lord.
I am giving half of my goods to the poor. Now we must ask, How in the world
did Zacheus become interested in the poor. Some one who is good at converting
fractions help me out. I know young folks donít like working with fractions
today but help me out here. Could it be that half means 50%? Half my goods I am
giving to the poor. That is one amazing transformation. Zacheus becomes a
philanthropist with a huge heart for now he is concerned with the poor in his
society. Notice that Zacheus is not interested in giving half of someone elseís
possessions to the poor. He is giving half of his own possessions to the poor.
But there is something else just as amazing as his generous contribution to
the poor. He is pledging to make restitution four fold. I need a little help
again. Could four fold mean that if I overcharged someone $20, I will pay him
back $80? Is this what fourfold means? Do you realize that means he probably
went way beyond the requirements of the law in making restitution?
When repentance is really genuine, we shall make things right where
possible. And paying four old restitution was certainly possible. I have a
feeling that Zacheus kept two books. This is an old trick among corrupted
business people. He kept a book which he could show to Rome and he kept another
book for his own personal records. In order to make this generous restitution,
he had to go through his personal book, get out his abacas, and calculate the
amount he would repay in restitution fees. He depleted his personal wealth but
what a wonderful conscience he had. He was able to sleep at night.
Let me ask you something very personal. What price would you pay to have a
clear conscience? I do not in any way mean to say that Zacheus could buy a good
conscience. The grace of God taught his heart to have mercy on the poor and make
restitution with his fellow man. The grace from above is now manifesting itself
in Zacheus as he seeks to be right on a horizontal level.
Did the Savior in any way discourage Zacheus from this course of action? On
the contrary. The Lord said, This day is salvation come
to this house forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. The Lord was
speaking about the inward mark of a real spiritual child of Abraham. Zacheus now
had a circumcised heart. He was rightly related to
His Creator as Abraham had been. Zacheus was born of the Spirit.
Zacheus was now in a wonderful position to answer any one who asks him, ďAre
you a true child of God? How do you know that you are? Zacheus could answer; ďyes
I am. I know because the word of Jesus Christ tells me that I am.Ē
But notice that the passage also offers much hope for any sinner who hears
the gospel. The Lord Jesus came the first time to seek and to save that which is
lost. Our Lordís mission is to seek and to save that which is lost.
Listen my friend. You are a sinner by nature, birth, practice, and choice.
You and I were born lost. But Christ Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He left heaven
and was born into Adamís race to seek and save that which was lost. The gospel
tells us that God commands us to repent and believe on His Son. And then God
demands we bring forth fruit meet for repentance. Have you ever heard the
personal, punctual, and powerful call of the Holy Spirit? Then believe on the
Son without delay. Saving union with Jesus Christ assures you of life eternal.
For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.