Summary: Every Christian is to be zealous for the things of God

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Zeal for God:

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

Are you thrilled about spiritual things? Are you zealous for the things of God? Do you have an intense yearning for the word of God? Do you hunger for the salvation of lost souls? How often do you meet with God’s people on Sunday morning? Do you make every effort to meet with the saints? Do you allow the least obstacle to hinder you in your walk with the Lord? How often do you attend Bible studies? Do you hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God? Are you lukewarm? Do you meditate upon God’s word day and night? How often do you read and reflect and study the Holy Scriptures? If your responses to the above questions are negative, then you need to reevaluate your spiritual standing.


Perhaps everyone here today recalls the story of Zacchaeus’ desire to see Jesus. This longing was so intense that he was willing to climb a “sycamore-fig tree” (Luke 19:4). How many of you have this same kind of craving? Has your faith degenerated into a kind of formality? Or has your faith reached the boiling point? Which? How do you compare with the zeal that Zacchaeus manifested in his determination to see Jesus? Even though Zacchaeus was a very wealthy man, nevertheless, he put forth exertion to see this man. And, as a result of this kind of determination, Jesus says to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (19:5). How did he react? Luke informs his readers: “he came down at once and welcomed him gladly” (19:6).

One cannot help but wonder how this wealthy tax collector responded in his mind when Jesus called him by name. Surely a commotion of thoughts and feelings must have surged through his heart—Jesus was coming to his house. Zacchaeus knew that Jesus had just read his heart even as Nathanael knew it and confessed it when Jesus uttered that one word to him about his being under the fig tree. Nathanael, too, was filled with bewilderment about how Jesus knew him; he asked Jesus, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you” (John 1:48). As a result of this revelation, Nathanael responded by saying, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (1:49).

As one wonders about these two men—one without guile and the other a notorious tax collector—one witnesses that Jesus is not a respecter of persons. He calls all into His service—the respectable and the unrespectable. When Jesus saw Nathanael under the fig tree, He detected his guileless character; on the other hand, when He saw Zacchaeus in the tree, He perceived his guilty character. Nevertheless, Jesus called him just as he called Nathanael into His service. One witnesses an act of divine grace. The people were astounded that Jesus would go the house of a sinner. Luke captures this interaction on the part of the people: “All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner’” (Luke 19:7). Luke concludes this pericope (narrative) by saying: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (19:10).

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