Summary: The Bible says Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost. This was one He had to seek in a strange place.
A Little Man Treed
The Bible says Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost. This was one He had to seek in a strange place. He was up a tree. The wording seek and save are descriptive of the nature of our Lord. He was both man and He was God. Human and divine, the human speaks of seeking, the divine side bespeaks of the saving. The great mystery of our Lord, is that He is not half man and half God, but all man and all God.
Zacchaeus had a divine appointment but was unaware of it. I have said before salvation is truly a personal thing between a man and God. As far as Zacchaeus was concerned Jesus had come from the very throne of God just to meet with him. Jesus had stepped down to earth, was raised in Nazareth, and begun His ministry. He came to this city of Jericho, a city that has always had a name for wickedness. I read that it was a place where many criminals resided.
It was located just 17 miles northeast of Jerusalem, and as Jerusalem was called a holy city, Jericho would have been her opposite. It was here at Jericho that our Lord gave sight to a blind man named Bartimaeus.
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
I. The Sinner:
A man named Zacchaeus, he was the chief of publicans, and he was very wealthy. We would not expect to find a man like Zacchaeus up in a sycamore tree, but here he was.
1. He Was Chief Of Publicans: The implication of this really doesn’t hit us as it did the Jews of that day. I guess a publican was looked upon as a thief and a crook, one who would steal from his own people. He was contracted by the Roman government to collect taxes from the Jews. His pay was whatever extra he could get from them. In other words he extorted money from them by threats.
And Zacchaeus was not just a publican, but chief among the publicans. This made him, head crook of that region. People would know who he was, and they would hate and fear him. Remember how the Pharisee spoke concerning the publican, Luke 18:11, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”
The even as, means that of those he mentioned the publican was at the bottom of the list. Lower than an extortioner, lower than an adulterer, why, under the law they stoned adulterers. They looked at the publican not only as a thief but also as a traitor, because he did the work for the Roman Government. I doubt they would have rated anyone lower on the totem pole.
2. He Was Wealthy: I believe that most people, poor people resent people with wealth. But especially someone who had gotten their wealth at the expense of the poor. And he probably flaunted what he had just to get even with those that hated him. When he walked down the street, there would not be neighbors calling out good morning. The voices he heard would be those complaining against him. Everyone likes to be liked. We don’t have to be popular, but it really hurts if we know there are those who don’t like us.
3. He Was Short: There is nothing wrong with being short, but it can be real unhandy, and especially in a crowd. There was no way Zacchaeus was going to get a sight of Jesus, unless he could find a way to see over their heads. So we see him climbing a sycamore tree. Stop a moment and consider here’s the richest man in town shimmying up a sycamore tree. This would be comical to those of the town.