By Pastor John Pruitt
In B.C. 63 the great iron Roman Empire took control of the entire Palestinian territory, including Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Jericho was a very rich trade city within this territory. Two major trade routs, from the Northeast and Southeast intersected there. The Romans collected tariffs of goods being exported and imported between the several cities and the so-called independent Decapolis.
The Romans preferred employing Jews as the tax collectors because of the strong resentment of the Jews toward the them. The Romans believed that the less they had to do with the Jews directly the better their relationship would be. So, the Jewish publicans or those who dealt with the public became the bad guys and were virtually hated by most people.
The publicans were, for the most part crooks and extortionist. They would inflate the value of goods and skim the profits off the top. The Romans didn’t mind as long as it didn’t cause them any problems. The publicans were considered traders to their own people the basest of humanity because they made their fortunes off the backs of their brethren. Luke 19:2, And, behold, [there was] a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. In the previous chapter Jesus had just taught that it was hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Let us examine a few things concerning the Lord Jesus and this sinner of sinners, Zacchaeus. Luke 19:3 “And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.” Most likely, Zacchaeus only sought to see the Lord that day because of his own curiosity, having heard that the great prophet whom he had heard, was to pass that way. In John 6:26 Jesus had something to say about that: “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” Verse 28 says, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”
The “prosperity gospel” preachers which are preaching today from the TV pulpits and couches have acquired their followers by enticing them with the prospect of material riches and blessings from Jesus. The main message is, ‘send my your money and Jesus will bless you with more.’ There is no indication that Zacchaeus was seeking spiritual enlightenment. We know that the Bible teaches that “There is none that seeketh after God.”
Luke 19:4 “And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that [way].” Because of the great numbers of people and the fact that he was a small man, he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree. This tree was unlike our sycamore which is in the maple family. Zacchaeus was like so many who are only interested in the celebrity of Jesus and not the person of Jesus. This tree was a type of fig tree which had leaves like a mulberry tree. Why the type of tree is named is not clear. According to Smith’s Bible dictionary the fig fruit was this tree was inferior to the regular fig fruit which were grown as crops. Usually, only the poor ate the fruit. Many folks today are willing to climb a tree to see Jesus the man, they are excited about religious entertainment, but not willing to get on their knees before Him, and serve and obey Him.
Luke 19:1-10 Many folks today are willing to climb a tree to see Jesus the man, and they are excited about religious entertainment, but not willing to get on their knees before Him, and serve and obey Him. Now, let us continue with a few more thoughts.
Luke 19:5 “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” Christ, as He walked in the flesh, had within himself, saving virtue. In Luke 8 a woman was healed and saved through faith when she touched Jesus’ clothes. When she touched Him, virtue or Divine power went out of Him. I view this virtue as a battery charger. It is not depleted from use, but constantly puts out energy. Zacchaeus was regenerated through the Savior’s look. No doubt, Zacchaeus had, at some point, heard the wonderful gospel, but to this point it had had no saving effect upon him. Please note that hundreds of people had touched the Savior the day a woman was healed. But only virtue went out of Him when she touched Him. Pause now, and read Luke 8:40-48. The Lord had no doubt made eye contact with hundreds, maybe thousands that day whom his looks conveyed no spiritual saving grace. Now, study the following passage very carefully: Luke 4:24-27 “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, [a city] of Sidon, unto a woman [that was] a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” What do you make of that? This wretched sinner had been chosen of God and was precious. The Lord says so in verse 9, And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. You must know, that the Lord Jesus did not just stumble upon this man, He was seeking him and found him up a tree.
Luke 19:6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. When the saving power of the Holy Ghost does a work on a poor, lost, helpless, wretched sinner he will come running or slide down a tree to the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. This verse tells us that the virtue or regenerating power of Christ had done a perfect work in Zacchaeus: for he made hast to come down from the tree and received the Lord with gladness. When any sinner is regenerated or born again, he or she comes to Christ and receives Him gladly. Take the time to read the following Scriptures: Acts 2:37-41; Acts 13:42-49.
Luke 19:8 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 anything from any man by false accusation, I restore [him] fourfold. Please take note of the sudden and drastic change which took place in this man’s attitude toward his own sin. It is one thing to see all the sin and sinners in the world, but in order to be save, one must see the sin in himself. Please stay tuned to the next article and we will examine one more verse in this passage. In the meantime don’t forget to do your homework. E-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org