KJV - Luke 19:1-10 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. (2) And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. (3) And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. (4) And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. (5) And 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. (6) And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. (7) And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. (8) 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. (9) And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. (10) For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
NIV - Luke 19:1-10 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. (2) A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. (3) He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. (4) So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. (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. (7) All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” (8) But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.” (9) Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. (10) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
In our text today, we find Jesus interacting with a different kind of person. So often in the four gospels, when we see Jesus making a one-on-one connection with an individual, that person is usually desperate and at the end of their rope. They are in need of some kind of life changing assistance, like healing, for themselves or for a family member in order to function in life.
Zacchaeus, on the other hand is much different. Zacchaeus, we are told, is the chief among the publicans. The publicans of that day were THE tax collectors for the Roman government...the Roman IRS if you will. The Romans would recruit the locals of their conquered lands and have them collect taxes from their own people on behalf of the Romans. While it was often profitable for those that chose to do it, they would be viewed as traitors by their own people. Not only was Zacchaeus a publican, he was a chief among the publicans. Therefore he was both very successful and very disliked.
Neither of those qualities: success and/or being a social pariah were enough to cause Jesus to immediately dismiss Zacchaeus as a candidate for following him. When Jesus arrived to town, Zacchaeus was up in a tree trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus walking by. Jesus also did not consider Zacchaeus a lost cause or too evil to save. Neither did he make assumptions that “a guy like that” won’t have anything to do with me, Jesus tells Zacchaeus that he is coming to his house to stay. When that happens, the crowd began to murmur: Oh...Jesus is hanging out with “sinners”.
There are three very important lessons we must learn from this text:
1. We Cannot Judge a Book by its Cover.
On the surface, most people would have written off Zacchaeus as someone that would NEVER be a follower of Jesus. He is too successful. He would never give up his money. He clearly doesn’t care what others think. We could go on and on. The fact is that Zacchaeus broke all of the rules. And, if Zacchaeus does, so can others. We must not dismiss others based upon ANY superficial information. There are a lot of people hurting in this world that look like they have it all together. Don’t dismiss anyone
2. Jesus Came to Save Sinners
We must never miss the true mission of Jesus: To save that which is lost. The Bible is clear that the lost are all those that sin. That includes all of mankind. You, me and Adolf Hitler. That means that all people are in need of Jesus’ gift of salvation. It also means that no one is automatically disqualified because they are too far gone.
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
We must never write off any individual because we think they are too sinful. There is no such thing as too sinful for Jesus!
3. Jesus Did NOT Condone Sin!
While Jesus was willing to associate with those that were perceived to be vile sinners by society, Jesus never condoned sin. This is one of several passages that I have seen others use to attempt to argue that Jesus condones sin. Nothing could be farther from the truth. One of the foundational principles of the New Testament is to repent of past sins and to live the life that Jesus prescribes.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
We are challenged by Jesus to be as much like him as we possibly can, both in thinking and in action. Let us examine ourselves to react to those around us, like Jesus did Zacchaeus.
Reflecting His SON,
Minister, North Hardin Church of Christ
1804 Sam Stewart Dr.
Radcliff, KY 40160
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