This week Rob spoke to us about Zacchaeus, which is a popular and well known Sunday school story. You can listen to him on the link below:
Luke Chapter 19 vs 1-10
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-figtree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Structure of the story – “ring composition” inverted parallelism.
“He entered Jericho and was passing through”
- Jesus is passing through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem.
- Jesus is surrounded by a crowd
Two things we know about Zacchaeus at the start:
- He was the chief tax collector
- He was rich
“Zacchaeus climbs the tree”
Zacchaeus is disliked and dishonourable. Zacchaeus is going to have to see Jesus from the outskirts, through all the people. So Zacchaeus climbs the tree. It’s a sycamore fig tree. They have large leaves and low branches. Easy to climb on and importantly easy to hide within. He doesn’t want to be seen, but he does still want a glimpse of Jesus.
“Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name”
But in response to this hiding, Jesus does something remarkable. Jesus comes up to the foot of the tree, looks up and says: “Zacchaeus, come down for I must stay at your house today”. Jesus is doing 3 things
- He calls Zacchaeus by name
- He accepts him in his vulnerability
- He invites shame upon himself
A note on shame
Sin leads to both shame and separation. Jesus is not only our death goat. He is our scapegoat. He died in the most shameful way. Zacchaeus was ashamed and he was separated. Jesus enters in, calls him by name, invites shame upon himself and by doing so accepts him and invites him to fellowship. His rejection becomes our acceptance. He becomes as shameful as we are in order that we can become as honourable as he is.
Jesus says do not be ashamed. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. And neither should there be shame. Isaiah 54:4
“He came down quickly and received him joyfully”
How does Zacchaeus react?
- Joyful and quick decision
- Transformed and sacrificial
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Zacchaeus recognises who Jesus is and calls him “Lord”. Jesus’s response is he calls him a “son of Abraham” Zacchaeus has been brought into fellowship with Jesus and called back into his community.
Zacchaeus had an encounter with Jesus because he was in his path. We must be in his path. We must seek Jesus out, we must wait for him.
But it is not enough to look on just to see Jesus. He wants us to meet with him, he wants us to fellowship with him. To do this we must take time, we must make ourselves vulnerable to him. We must get down from the tree.
When we does this we will encounter Jesus. These encounters are safe. We can boldly approach his throne.
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”