Series 54


by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Luke 19:1-10)

What a human story this is – a famous, rich, public man climbing a tree to get a look at Jesus who was passing by! Read the story several times and try to enter into Zacchaeus’ feelings as he sought to see Jesus, as he risked the scorn and criticism of the crowd when he climbed the tree, and as Jesus stopped to tell him that He wanted to go to his house. The whole account is an illustration of Luke 19:10, and there are three great attractions about the incident:-

  1. 1. It is the record of a sudden conversion. Some people do not believe in sudden conversion, but here was one! When Zacchaeus climbed up the tree he was lost; when he came down he was saved. It happened as quickly as that.
  2. 2. It is the story of the conversion of an unlikely man. Zacchaeus was a chief taxman, a Jew working for the Roman government. He was a swindler and he had no conscience. No wonder he was hated for his dishonesty and his hard-heartedness! We are apt to ‘write off’ some people as being too difficult for the Lord to save. Thank God, no-one is beyond His grace, and we should not despair of the salvation of anyone!
  3. 3. This man’s conversion was thorough. There were no half-measures about it. As soon as the Lord met with him he indicated his willingness to be 100% His disciple.

How did the miracle happen? After all, this study could be entitled: “How to be saved and know it!” Let us ask and answer that question from the incident and remember that we shall discover how to be saved and how to show others. Here is the way to talk to a seeker, and to direct that one to Christ:-

1. First, you must mean business and seek the Lord with determination.

Look at verses 2 and 3. Was Zacchaeus simply curious to see who Jesus was? Surely not! A well-known man does not climb a tree just to satisfy an idle curiosity. Evidently Zacchaeus was dissatisfied and hungry, and longing for what Christ could supply. He was certainly earnest, for he sought Jesus, but what he did not realise was that Jesus was seeking him. Here, then, we have a seeking Saviour and a seeking sinner, and the two are sure to meet. This was Zacchaeus’ only opportunity to meet Christ – look up Isaiah 55:6. What a good thing he was so determined and prompt in his action!

2. You must overcome some obstacles.

Look at verses 2-4. Consider the valid reasons that Zacchaeus could have given for not seeking Christ: ‘I am a chief tax collector. What will others say? I am too well-known. What will the family say, and my neighbours…?’ But Zacchaeus overcame all these objections, as well as his pride, the greatest hindrance of all. And if you are not saved you will have to overcome obstacles before you can come into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. You must receive the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour.

Look at verses 5-6. Zacchaeus must have had a tremendous shock when Jesus stopped at his tree and asked to go home with him. Everyone hated Zacchaeus but here was Someone who loved him. Do you wonder that he came down out of the tree so quickly and received Jesus so joyfully?

How different from the rich young ruler (Mark 10:22); Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:24); Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-2), though afterwards Saul was compelled to come to the Lord (Acts 9:3-6).

A Christian, a believer, is one who has received the Lord Jesus (John 1:12; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27; Revelation 3:20). If you would be saved you must receive Him, accept Him and welcome Him into your heart and life.

4. You must expect and be ready for misunderstanding and opposition.

Look at verse 7. The opposition was directed against the Lord, but Zacchaeus was at the centre of it. The people “muttered”, but he took his stand with Christ. It is not possible to become a Christian without experiencing some measure of persecution and opposition (Matthew 5:10-12; John 16:33; Philippians 1:29).

5. You must confess the Lord before others.

Notice the first six words in verse 8. Zacchaeus did not go and hide because he had no intention of being a secret disciple; he at once identified himself with Jesus, whom he now loved and acknowledged openly as his Saviour and friend. See Matthew 10:32-33, and compare Romans 10:9-10. If you are going to be a real Christian and have assurance of salvation, open confession of faith in Christ is absolutely essential.

6. You must be willing to obey the Lord.

In verse 8 we notice exactly what Zacchaeus said: first, he would make restitution; second, he would share some of his possessions with those whose need was far greater than his own. Zacchaeus was now living under a new Master and no longer serving and pleasing self. His desire was to please the Lord Jesus. Are you willing to be completely the Lord’s?

7. You must rely upon the Word of Christ for the assurance that you are saved.

In verse 9 Jesus said that, and Zacchaeus knew without any doubt that he was saved – simply because Jesus had said so – resting on Christ’s word. After that great interview Jesus went to the Cross (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; (1 Peter 2:24) – and now He is our risen, exalted Lord (Hebrews 7:25).