How a rich little sinner met Jesus and became a son of Abraham
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." - (Luke 19:10.)
The story of Zaecchaoeus the publican (Luke 19:2-10) is not only an interesting bit of history; it is also a delightful example of how Jesus meets the needs of
sinners who receive Him with a perfect and sure salvation. In these few verses of scripture we can see salvation needed, sought, provided, received, doubted,
evidenced, and certified.
"Behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich." The man had a good name, meaning "Pure" or "Clean." He was a publican or tax collector, and was therefore in favor with the Roman government, however he might have been hated by his fellow Jews. He was no ordinary publican, but a chief publican. And he was rich.
What more could a man want or need? One answer is that man Is never satisflfied with the things of this world: he always wants more. Another answer is that no matter what is a man's reputation, position, or wealth in this world, he can never find true happiness or peace of mind away from God.
By nature and by choice, every man is a lost sinner unless and until saved by the grace of God. Above all else, then, Zacchaeus needed to be saved.
"And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way." Possibly Zacchaeus' interest in Jesus started as mere curiosity, but his interest grew stronger as he heard more about Jesus. It is good to hear about Jesus, but it is far better to see or find out for yourself what a wonderful Savior He is. "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." (Psalm 34:8.)
Zacchaeus was interested enough that he would not use his littleness of stature for an excuse to miss his opportunity. He refused to hide behind people who were bigger than he was. He was determined to find out about Jesus, even if he had to climb a tree to do it.
"And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house." We may call this an invitation if we wish, but it is quite unlike most invitations given by modern evangelists. In fact, Jesus was inviting Himself into the home of Zacchaeus.
There is a bit of theology here. The sinner does God no favor by coming to Him. It is God that shows favor by coming to the sinner in salvation.
One thing is sure: God has provided salvation in Christ for Zacchaeus and for every other sinner that will receive Him/.
"And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully." Jesus invites Himself in only where He knows He is welcome. He does not force His salvation upon men against their will, but when His grace works effectively in their hearts they will, like Zacchaeus, receive Him joyfully. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12.)
"And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying. That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner." People still murmur about the mixing of saints and sinners, about Christians compromising with this world, about hypocrites in the church. To the crowd that day, Zacchaeus was still a sinner. They doubted that his character was changed just because he had received Jesus. Doubting Zacchaeus, they murmured against Jesus.
It is sadly true that not every person who professes to be a Christian really is one. Besides, too, many genuine Christians live such inconsistent lives that others have reason to doubt their salvation, and so there is murmuring against Christ.
"And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." God does not require every Christian to give half his goods to the poor or to restore ill gotten gains fourfold as evidence of salvation, but surely every Christian ought to produce some reasonable evidence of the faith professed. The tree is known by Its fruit.
No doubt Zacchaeus could have complained that people were unfair to doubt his salvation, to consider him still a lost shiner. But the best answer to unjust criticism is simply to live the life of Christ. "For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." (I Peter 2:15.)
"And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham." No matter now what men may say: Jesus has certified the fact of salvation, and it is His word that will stand forever. "They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." (Galatians 3:7.) It was in this sense that Jesus declared Zacchaeus to be a son of Abraham, and that is assurance enough for anybody,
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." That was and still is His mission, and through faith in Him any sinner can become a son of Abraham, as did Zacchaeus.