May 08, 2020 – Friday
Luke 19:3-4 NIV
3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.
4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
Who was this person who wanted to see Jesus so badly he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree to make sure he did see him. Was he a young boy who had heard so much about this man Jesus who might be the Messiah that he was filled with excitement and could not bear to miss a chance at seeing him?
We know he was not a young boy but a man by the name of Zaachaeus, but the rest just might be true for he was indeed short and for some unknown reason he just had to see Jesus for himself. He was not only a man, but a wealthy man and the chief tax collector for the area.
I am writing about Zaachaeus because our Thursday night Bible study looked at Luke 19:1-10 after finishing up chapter eighteen. And much like a week ago (May 1st when the word good was discussed), I was excited by all we discussed and discovered throughout the evening linking Zaachaeus’ story with many of the prior stories.
For instance, Zaachaeus as a short person was very persistent in his desire to see Jesus, just as the widow was in 18:1-8, and like the widow he was rewarded for his persistence and faith. For 5 When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. He not only got to see Jesus, but got to receive Him as a guest in his home.
Just a bit later some of the people were grumbling because they saw this as Jesus being the guest of a sinner. That was when, with no prompting, Zaachaeus ddeclared 8 Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount. Here we see not one, but two links back to chapter eighteen. First of all as in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Zaachaeue is effectively declaring himself to be a sinner. Secondly, unlike the young rich ruler, without direction he is ready to give up half of his wealth and more. Additionally there is the tie back to Luke 3:8 when John the Baptist ssaid Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. Zaachaeus was not only repenting, but producing fruit in keeping with his repentance in giving away half of his wealth and paying back fourfold whatever he may have cheated out of anyone. [A quick note: the idea of paying back fourfold was determined to come from Exodus 22:1 and 2 Samuel 12:6 by Kristen during the study. Check out the links.]
We did not end there; recall John the Baptist said And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. For many Jews did believe because they could call Abraham their father they were going to go to heaven. John clearly disabused them of this idea. But after Zaachaeus made his declaration of giving away half of his wealth and paying back anyone he had cheated fourfold, it was Jesus’ turn to speak. Thus He said to Zaachaeus, 9 Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. Out of a stone (tax collectors were considered sinners and lost), Jesus raised up Zaachaeus as a child of Abraham and as Jesus had stated in chapter eighteen What is impossible with man is possible with God. Then in case anyone missed what He was accomplishing Jesus added in the very next verse For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Jesus asked in the prior chapter at the end of the parable of the persistent widow when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? In Zaachaeus He did find faith. He may even have found faith in Zaachaeus like that found in a little child.
Can you approach Jesus with the excitement and faith as Zaachus had? When you go to church this weekend consider how Zaachaeus put away his status as chief tax collector and simply came to Jesus in great faith as a sinner. Then consider how salvation came to his house as a result.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton