Our True Significance in Christ
Sermon shared by Steve Hanchett
Summary: A look at the encounter Jesus had with Zachaeus and how Christ changed his life.
Audience: Seeker adults
The first encounter I want us to consider is Jesus meeting Zacchaeus as recorded in Luke 19:1-10. Almost anyone who has ever been in Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, or Children’s Church knows the story of Zacchaeus. We know it so well because of the song we sing about him.
Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree,
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in the tree.
And he said:
Zacchaeus, you come down,
For I’m going to your house today,
For I’m going to your house today.
This meeting between Jesus and Zacchaeus took place in Jericho. Jericho was a common stopping place for travelers on their way to Jerusalem. Most people found it important to rest there before continuing on the dangerous road between Jericho and Jerusalem. Jesus himself recognized the danger of this road in his parable of the Good Samaritan recorded in Luke 10.
This parable is a good accounting for what that road was like. Jesus spoke of a man “going down from Jerusalem to Jericho.” Jerusalem is about 3,000 feet above sea level and Jericho is at about 600 feet above sea level. The road between the two cities at that time was nothing more than a dangerous, rocky, thief-infested gorge that required about six hours travel time.
You might also remember in Jesus parable of the Good Samaritan that a Levite and a priest both passed by the man who had been beaten and robbed. This itself was a historically accurate part of the story as well. Jericho was a Levitical city at the time. Thus, many of the residents there were priests.
Jericho was also a very wealthy city. Several things in the gospels make this clear. The blind beggars near the city were there because it was a place they could count on people having money to give them. Jericho was chosen as the winter capital for Herod and became an integral part of the government of that area. It had become a large trade center and many wealthy merchants carried on their business from Jericho.
The wealth of the city becomes important to the story of Zacchaeus as well. You see, Zacchaeus was a tax collector and a very wealthy one at that. How does a tax agent become wealthy? Simple, you collect more that you are required to and then you pocket the difference.
It is interesting that the name Zacchaeus means “the just” or “pure” or “holy.” But it is clear that his life didn’t live up to his name. He is a picture of each one of us. God made us to be a holy people who live in a joyous relationship with Him. But we never live up to the design that God had for our lives.
The tax agents of Jesus day were not very well liked. It would not be overstating the case to say that they were hated. They were hated because they represented
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