“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchæus 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. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:1-10)
One of the most important verses in the New Testament is Luke 19:10, for it gives the purpose for the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost.
As Jesus, the God-Man, was walking through Jericho, on His way to Jerusalem to die on the cross, His attention was directed to a man who was a leader among the publicans, and he was rich.
While in Jericho, Jesus had already healed blind Bartimaeus, who had pleaded, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!” Those who plead with God for mercy are never disappointed. Jesus had compassion on Bartimaeus and healed him. Jesus healed Bartimaeus because he cried out as He passed by. If Bartimaeus had not cried out he would not have been healed.
Today, Jesus is passing by those who hear the gospel. Do not let the moment pass if you are in need of spiritual healing. Call upon the name of the Lord, and plead for mercy. Jesus may never come your way again in quite the same manner. Jesus is passing by, and for many, this may be the last opportunity to make certain that your sins are forgiven and you will go to heaven when you die.
Having healed blind Bartimaeus, the Lord of glory continued on His way as a great crowd followed.
Among those in the crowd that day was Zacchaeus, who was short of stature, and had a hard time trying to get a glimpse of Jesus. Zacchaeus had heard that Jesus was a miracle worker. He had heard that Jesus was the Son of God. It was said that Jesus was born of a virgin. Some said He was the Messiah. Zacchaeus wanted to see for himself, and became desperate to do so. In desperation, Zacchaeus climbed into a sycamore tree. There he precariously clung to a thick branch and waited with excitement. “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:5).
There are three thoughts about Jesus that might have crossed through the mind of Zacchaeus in that moment that should not be missed: He sees me. He knows me. He wants me.
What a blessed truth it is to know that Jesus sees those who are looking for Him. There is a wonderful promise in the Bible. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
The full revelation of Scripture is that none seek after God until in grace God begins to draw a soul to Himself. Jesus taught, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). From a human point of view, Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus, but only because, from a Divine perspective, the Father was drawing Zacchaeus to His Son.
If you are seeking to find Jesus, then rejoice, for Jesus will see you because all that the Father has given to the Son shall be brought safely into the arms of Christ. Soon, very soon, you shall be able to sing a song of praise with Dottie Rambo.
“I feel the touch of hands so kind and tender
They’re leading me in paths that I must trod
I’ll have no fear for Jesus walks beside me
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.
So let the storms rage high
The dark clouds rise
They don’t worry me
For I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God.
He walks with me,
And naught of earth shall harm me
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.”
Jesus saw Zacchaeus.
What did Jesus see when he looked at Zacchaeus? The Bible says that Jesus saw a man who was rich, for Zacchaeus was a publican. Zacchaeus was the chief tax-collector in the region of Jericho. Although he was a citizen of Judea, Zacchaeus had become part of the oppressive and despised Roman government. He had pledged loyalty to Rome in order to be able to collect local taxes and charge a profitable commission. As a tax collector, Zacchaeus was a rich man, but he was socially a despised man. Zacchaeus was looked upon as a traitor to his own people. He was a robber and a cheater.
Had Jesus wanted to remain popular with the people, He would have looked straight ahead when He came to the sycamore tree which Zacchaeus had climbed in. But the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost, and Zacchaeus was lost.
Zacchaeus was lost to the sin of greed. Money consumed his soul to the point that he was willing to sell out his nation for personal profit.
However, the money did not make Zacchaeus happy, for the love of money is the root of all evil. Evil cannot produce happiness. Any person who is consumed by evil, any person who is addicted to a particular lust, or passion, can testify to the misery of being in bondage to the internal drive of the soul.
Some people are consumed by sexual urges, and others by the lust for power. Some are driven by a fierce anger, and a need to control. Others cannot hold their tongue, but feel compelled to speak, to criticize, condemn, and argue.
Eventually, sin will make a person lonely. Zacchaeus was a rich man, a despised man, and a lonely man. Loneliness leads a person to bitterness. And Jesus sees it all.
Then, second, Zacchaeus might have said about Jesus, “He knows me for He has called my name.” Some people wonder and ask, “Does Jesus care?” In 1901 Frank Graeff asked.
“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song;
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
O, yes, He cares – I know He cares!
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares, He cares.”
Jesus saw Zacchaeus and spoke to him personally saying, “Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:5). What a joy must have gone through the soul of Zacchaeus. Jesus of Nazareth had singled him out, a chief of sinners. “He knows me,” said the tax collector.
Then, third, Zacchaeus might have said of Jesus, “He wants me!” It was true. Jesus did want Zacchaeus. He wanted him to stop sinning. Jesus wanted Zacchaeus to stop stealing from others, and being a traitor to the Law of God. Jesus wanted Zacchaeus to have fellowship with Him in his house.
When Jesus commanded Zacchaeus to come down, there was gospel obedience. The call of Christ is always effectual when the Royal command goes forth. Zacchaeus came down with haste, and in that moment was born again. The evidence was immediate, for Zacchaeus said, “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.”
While good works do not save, good works are a sign of salvation. Making restitution is a good work, and indicated that Zacchaeus was truly born again. Jesus was pleased with the words of Zacchaeus, and said, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”
Salvation restores people to a right relationship to God and to others. Salvation helps us to remember who we are, and to whom we rightly belong. Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham. And to those who receive Christ, to them He gives power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name (John 1:12).
Can you say of Jesus, “He sees me!” “He knows me!” He wants me!”?
Come with haste to Christ. Seek for Him with all your heart, and you shall find Him for He is coming to you. Come to Christ no matter what obstacles you might face. Zacchaeus had some obstacles to overcome. There was the great crowd. There was his short stature.
You too might have your obstacles. Perhaps you come from a family that is not religious. Perhaps you have friends that will laugh at you if you find God. Perhaps you have your own skepticism to overcome. Perhaps there are secret sins that have become an obstacle to come to Christ. The Psalmist prayed, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalm 19:12). The Lord knows what goes on in your heart. He knows what you are thinking. What you are fantasizing for. The Lord knows the evil thoughts, the pride, and the jealousies of the heart. He judges what He sees on the inside, not just what He sees on the outside.
There are those who are members of the Church and are in good standing. Someone might be a pastor, a deacon, a Sunday School teacher. There are those who have been baptized as a baby, confirmed in their youth, and are careful to observe the sacraments. But the heart is far from God. There is no peace in the soul.
Some people have no peace at home. They have no happiness in society. They know in their heart they are a hypocrite and are ashamed.
Then there are others who are self-righteous. The Bible says, “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Prov. 30:12).
All these things become obstacles to finding peace with God. No matter the obstacle, overcome each one for the good of the soul, and for the glory of God.
Make your commitment to Christ. Say, “Lord, forgive me. I want to come back to you through Jesus Christ. I want my sins forgiven. I want to find joy again.”