Wednesday, March 28, 2012


“And he was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature” (Luke 19:3).

“Zaccheus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree the Lord he wanted to see.” (Sunday School Song).

I used to like to hunt. One tactic that is employed, especially in hunting elk, is to find a vantage point in which you can better see the surrounding hillsides. You can see better from a higher vantage point. That was the tactic Zaccheus used. He was small in stature, and “unable because of the crowd” to see Him, “so he climbed up into a sycamore tree” (Luke 19:3-4). It is good to work towards a better vantage point where a better look at the Savior might be gained.

It is the nature of saving faith to overcome both objections and obstacles. Zaccheus faced both. He was not just a tax-gatherer, but “a chief tax-gatherer” (Luke 19:3). Such people were despised by the religious leaders, as Alfred Edersheim noted, “We know in what repute Publicans were held, and what opportunities of wrong-doing and oppression they possessed. And from his after-confession it is only too evident that Zaccheus had to the full used them for evil. And he had got that for which he had given up alike his nation and his soul.” The Pharisees had previously voiced their disdain for such as he (Luke 5:30; 15:1-2; Cf. Luke 18:11). He was deemed unworthy and beyond salvation’s reach—perhaps he thought the same of himself.

He faced another obstacle—he was short. The crowds were gathered around Jesus. He was too short to see above the crowd. His desire to see Jesus superseded his limitations—he devised a plan. He climbed up into the tree, and as Jesus passed by, “(Jesus) looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). Jesus was received into his home and others “began to grumble”—as they had on previous occasions when Jesus associated with people like him. But Zaccheus expressed true faith by his actions, saying, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and If I had defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much” (Luke 19:8). “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus declared (Luke 19:9).

Zaccheus was small of stature, we are all similarly small of stature before God (Romans 3:23). He climbed up a tree to gain a better vantage point. We must be led by the Spirit to a better vantage point where we can rightly esteem our spiritual need (John 16:8). By faith Zaccheus climbed a tree so that he could see Jesus. What did he see? “The Son of Man who (came) to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He found in Him One who had come to freely grant salvation to lost sinners such as himself! In Him he found salvation! The Spirit likewise must open our eyes that we might “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Spirit-led to a better vantage point we gain sight of the Glorious Savior who is able to “save to the uttermost” even the “foremost” of sinners (Hebrews 7:25; 1 Timothy 1:15). That is indeed the reason for which He came (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15). The Spirit and the Word have both been given that we might behold the glorious nature of both His person and His work (John 16:14; 20:30-31).

J. C. Ryle, “We learn…from these verses, Christ's free compassion towards sinners, and Christ's power to change hearts. A more striking instance than that before us it is impossible to conceive. Unasked, our Lord stops and speaks to Zaccheus. Unasked, He offers Himself to be a guest in the house of a sinner. Unasked, He sends into the heart of a tax-collector the renewing grace of the Spirit, and puts him that very day among the children of God. (Jeremiah 3:19.) It is impossible, with such a passage as this before as, to exalt too highly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot maintain too strongly that there is in Him an infinite readiness to receive, and an infinite ability to save sinners. Above all, we cannot hold too firmly that salvation is not of works, but of grace. If ever there was a soul sought and saved, without having done anything to deserve it, that soul was the soul of Zaccheus. Let us grasp these doctrines firmly and never let them go. Their price is above rubies. Grace, free grace, is the only thought which gives men rest in a dying hour. Let us proclaim these doctrines confidently to everyone to whom we speak about spiritual things. Let us bid them come to Jesus Christ, just as they are, and not wait in the vain hope that they can make themselves fit and worthy to come. Not least, let us tell them that Jesus Christ waits for them, and would come and dwell in their poor sinful hearts, if they would only receive Him.”

Pastor Jerry

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