Summary: How a normal sinful person becomes a saint.
“Becoming A Saint”
BY: Kenneth E. Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Who are saints? In this
day and age we often only think of those who have been Cannonized...or those who have done
some remarkable things for God in the past as saints....but in the letters of Paul we see that he
often addressed all the believers he was writing to as saints....now from these letters we see that
these people were far from being perfect, but they had one thing on their side that gave them
that precious name: and that one thing was that they had experienced conversion through our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And the meaning of conversion is clearly illustrated in the experience of Zacchaeus.
In verse 2 of our Gospel lesson we see that Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector, and he
was a very rich man.
This is the only time that the title ‘chief’ is used to describe a tax collector.
And this probably means that he was the head of the local taxation office; therefore,
Zachaeus was responsible to the Roman government for the employment and management of the
local tax-collectors and their monies.
So Zacchaeus had all the pleasures and comforts of life that money could buy....but this
was obviously not enough.
And as we know from what Jesus has taught us that because of his earthly riches he was a
man who would find it very difficult to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. His money was a
serious threat to his salvation, as it is with all of us who are rich. Because we tend to love our
money and the things our money can do for us more than we love Christ.
But as we see in verses 3 and 4 that Zacchaeus “wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a
short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree
to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.”
So the first step in the conversion of Zacchaeus was his desparate need to see Jesus.
Despite his wealth and the pleasures enjoyed by wealth, Zacchaeus was apparently empty
and lonely within his heart.
Now on top of this tax collectors were bittterly hated by the people.
Tax collectors served the Roman conquerors, and although most tax collectors were
Jews...in the people’s eyes they had denied their Jewish heritage and betrayed their country.
They were thus ostracized--completely cut off from Jewish society and excommunicated from
Jewish religion and priviledges.
On top of this....we’re not talking about the IRS, tax collectors were cheats. They were
dishonest and unjust people.
The Roman government compensated tax collectors by allowing them to collect more
than the percentage required for taxes.
And they greedily abused their right...adding whatever percent they wanted and felt
could be collected.
They took bribes from the wealthy, and fleeced the average citizen.
So Zacchaeus persevered in his attempt to see Jesus, and he had to humble himself in
order to do it.
Imagine Zacchaeus, a man of position and wealth, climbing a tree just to see an
important person pass by.
How many of us are willing to humble ourselves just in order to see Jesus?
Zacchaeus most likely had experienced the stirring of faith within his heart for some
He had heard reports about Jesus’ being the Messiah, and perhaps he had heard about
Jesus saving and calling Matthew, another tax collector, to be one of his disciples.
Maybe Zacchaeus had known Matthew....maybe they had been friends...and maybe he
had seen the change that had taken place in the life of Matthew...and maybe he wanted that for
So often, the witness of others who have been changed through Christ...is what causes us
to hunger and thirst for the same thing.
Most people are led to Christ through friends...friends that have experienced something
that they have not....friends who witness through their lives...their love...their
compassion....and then invite them to church to come and see for themselves how wonderful
it is to serve the Lord, worship the Lord, and be surrounded by a loving household of faith.
When was the last time you invited a friend to come to church?
In verses 5 and 6 we see that “When Jesus reached the spot (where Zacchaeus was) he
looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediatley. I must stay at your house
today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”
So we see that conversion includes receiving the invitation of Christ.
Jesus knew and called Zacchaeus by name...and He calls all of us by name.
And Jesus asked Zacchaeus to receive Him, and to be recieved immediately.
He was set for Jerusalem, and could not delay for too long. There was no time to