Summary: In the story of Zacchaeus we see that we may not only have physical, but spiritual handicaps that keep us from seeing Christ. The change in his life was proof of his salvation.
“A Big Change In A Small Man”
INTRODUCTION: Tell the story of Zach …
SONG – “Zaccheus was a wee little man …”
Luke 19:1-2 – “Jericho” – Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem … to the cross. Jericho is about 15 miles from Jerusalem. It was a big, rich city. There were 3 tax collection centers in Palestine … Jericho, Jerusalem, and Capernaum. Jericho was the tax capital of Palestine … and Zaccheus was the head tax collector.
“Publican” = ‘tax collector’. They spoke of Publicans in the same breath as sinners, thieves, robbers & murderers. Palestine was under Roman rule. They hired Jews to collect the taxes. They could keep what they collected ABOVE the Roman tax. They were crooked, & dishonest … and cheated the people. They were considered traitors and outcasts. They couldn’t participate in synagogue worship … and their testimony wasn’t even accepted in a court of law.
Zaccheus was no different. He was a “chief” Publican, who had tax collectors under him. He probably got a portion of their profits, too … “rich”.
STORY of IRS Agent …
Let’s take a look at our Tax Collector this morning.
19:3 – How did he know about Jesus?
By this time Jesus was famous. He wasn’t just famous and LIKED … He was also famous and HATED by the religious leaders. Jesus was criticized for associating with sinners & tax collectors. That may have drawn Zaccheus to Jesus. He wanted to see “who He was” … not just what people said about Him.
It’s possible that Matthew, a former tax collector, had told Zaccheus about Jesus … how Jesus had changed his life.
Zaccheus had a HANDICAP … he was too short and couldn’t see over the crowd to see Jesus. Imagine Zaccheus trying to plow his way up front, and being pushed back … maybe even being elbowed in the head when they saw who it was trying to butt up to the front.
Zaccheus was drawn to Jesus. If you’re drawn to Jesus, it’s only because the Holy Spirit is working in your heart.
19:4 – Zaccheus runs ahead of the parade, to get a good look at Jesus when He passes by. He sees the crowd heading his way, and he knows he’ll just get pushed aside in the mob. He spots a sycamore tree and climbs up the tree. Imagine the scene! A rich man, in expensive robes, running down the street … THEN … climbing up a tree!
19:5 – When Jesus stopped, the parade stopped. Jesus looks up into the tree … and calls him BY NAME! I don’t think Jesus shook His finger at Jesus, like we used to do when we sung that song as a child.
STORY – “My name is Fred”
Zaccheus must have thought, “How does Jesus know my name?” Zaccheus hadn’t met Jesus before … nobody else had ever sought out Zaccheus to be friendly to him like this! AND NOW … Jesus invites Himself to Zaccheus’ house! Nobody before had ever wanted to be a guest of Zaccheus!
19:6 – Zaccheus is delighted! He takes Jesus up on His offer. BUT … not everyone is as excited about this as Zaccheus.
19:7 – In Bible times, to be a guest at someone’s house, meant that you accepted them. Jesus was criticized for this before. Luke 15:2 – “And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” You just didn’t associate with such despised people!