Summary: The main idea of our teaches us what we must do in order to hear Jesus say to us "Today salvation has come to this house". As we look at story, we need to ask ourselves: "Have I done what is necessary?" "Has Jesus said these words to me?"
by Pastor John Stensrud
Immanuel Baptist Church
April 1, 2001
Luke 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of ZACCHEUS; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "ZACCHEUS, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a ’sinner.’" 8 But ZACCHEUS stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." 9 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
A man went for physical checkup and the nurse asked him how much he weighed. He held his stomach in and replied, "160 lbs." She got him on the scales, weighed him and said: "No, your weight is 166 lbs. The nurse then asked him how tall he was. Standing very straight he answered, "5 feet 10 inches." The nurse measured him and said, no - he was only 5’9". Then the nurse asked him what his normal blood pressure was. After looking at her for a moment he said, "How can you expect my blood pressure to be normal??? I came in here a tall, slender man and you have already made me short and fat."
“ZACCHEUS 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 Master passed that way, he looked up in the tree. And He said "ZACCHEUS, you come down. For I’m going to your house today." How many of you have sung that song as a child? It’s a sweet little song. But you get the impression that ZACCHEUS was a sweet little man with 1 basic problem: he was short: too short to see Jesus. If that is your impression, it’s the farthest thing from the truth.
I’m going to tell you the main idea of our text right from the outset: It teaches us about what we must do in order to hear Jesus say to us "Today salvation has come to this house". As we look at story, we need to ask ourselves: "Have I done what is necessary?" "Has Jesus said these words to me?"
Let’s start with the setting of the story. The account of ZACCHEUS begins with Jesus coming to Jericho: You may remember Jericho from Sunday School as the city that Joshua and the Israelites marched around 7 times and then the walls came tumbling down. Just south of that O.T. city a new Jericho was built – it was a trade center, a prosperous city from an economic standpoint. Not unlike Elgin.
Jesus came to Jericho to see ZACCHEUS: In bible times persons were named either according to their character, the circumstances of their birth, a physical characteristic, or what a person did for a living. Esau was named “Red” because he was all hairy and the color of his hair was red. Nabel, who was Abigail’s husband, his name meant “fool.” And that name fit him like a “T” because he refused to feed David’s men and almost got his entire household killed. How would you like that name? “Hey, fool, what’s up?” I knew of a family in Wyoming whose last name was Outhouse. Maybe way back in time some guy built outhouses with the little crescent etched in the door and the name stuck. I think I would rather be called “fool.” Anyway, there was a meaning behind ZACCHEUS’ name: it meant “pure or righteous.” Nothing could have been farther from the truth.
ZACCHEUS was probably one of the most hated men in all the region of Jericho. Why? Was it because he was so short? No - although I don’t suppose that was an asset. Shortness made it easy for others to make fun of him, push him aside, or even ignore him. If you’ll pardon the pun, as far as others were concerned, ZACCHEUS just didn’t measure up. His shortness was a disadvantage - but that wasn’t why he was disliked. I believe the reason ZACCHEUS was disliked was that he had an attitude problem. I think ZACCHEUS had become an angry and bitter man because of the way people treated him. WHY ELSE would a man take a job with such a negative effect on his life. This man was a tax collector. Public sentiment towards tax collectors in Jesus’ day was that they were scum of the earth. In the Gospels, we’re told (no less than 8 X) that people complained about Jesus eating with the "tax collectors & sinners." It’s as if there were sinners… and then there was a special class of sinners called “tax collectors.” But ZACCHEUS was a chief tax collector. He was the Big Kahuna to boot. He was in a class all by himself.