Summary: The biblical account of Zacchaeus is far more than an exciting tale to be told to children in Sunday School. This wonderful story is packed with theological truth concerning sinners, the Savior, and salvation.


Text: Luke 19:1-10

Intro: I could ask almost any child present today to tell me the story of Zacchaeus and receive a pretty detailed account. Perhaps this story is so popular with children because it involves one of their favorite activities—climbing trees. Or maybe kids like this story because they find it so unusual for a grownup to climb a tree. But whatever the reason, this story is well known and loved by children.

In thinking upon the biblical account of Zacchaeus, I was reminded of the simplicity of the story and how it excited me as a child. But as I looked deeper, I noticed some profound parallels with divine truth that may be overlooked, due to the story’s familiarity and simplicity.

This Bible story reveals not only a sinner who found himself literally up a tree, but also the deep love and concern of the Savior who knew how to deal with the sin that had put him there. We see in this account the ability of Jesus, not only to reach down to the down and out, but also to reach up to the up and out. Jesus can save a person without regard to their station in life.

Let’s look closely at this familiar story today and dig out some of the treasures found here.

Theme: The story of Zacchaeus illustrates:


A. His Social Status Could Have Been A Problem.

1. He was a man of high position.

Luke 19:1 “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2a And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans…”

NOTE: [1] He was the “chief among the publicans.” That basically means he was what we might refer to as “Commissioner of Taxes.”1 This phrase also indicates that he had other collectors working under his supervision.

[2] Concerning the desire for status in life, someone has noted the following:

The trouble is that too many people

Are spending money

They haven’t yet earned

For things they don’t need

To impress people they don’t like.2

2. He was a man of many possessions.

Luke 19:2b “…and he was rich.”

NOTE: [1] This is not meant to imply that rich people cannot be saved, but rather that often riches can be a source of hindrance to salvation. Jesus himself alluded to this truth when He said, “…How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24)!

[2] Patrick Henry, the man who said, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” once spoke concerning true riches. He said the following:

I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I had not given them a single shilling, they would have been rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor indeed.3

B. His Short Stature Could Have Been A Problem.

Luke 19:3 “And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.”

NOTE: [1] Zacchaeus’ physical shortness is representative of his inability and insufficiency in approaching a holy God. Please don’t miss the Holy Spirit’s point in mentioning this detail. The only way Zacchaeus was able to meet Jesus was by going to the sycamore tree. Folks, the tree is still the only place the lost sinner can meet the Savior. By faith trusting Christ’s finished work on the cross is the only means of salvation from one’s sins.

I Pet. 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

[2] Luke 19:7 refers to Zacchaeus as, “…a man that is a sinner.” You see that was the real problem. It was not his shortness of stature that prevented him from being God’s child, but his shortness of spirit. Anyone who has not turned from their sins and received Christ into their heart as Lord and Master is in the same condition as Zacchaeus. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

[3] There is good news today for those who find themselves spiritually short.

Isa. 59:1 “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:”

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”


A. Zacchaeus Climbed A Tree To See The Savior.

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