Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 February 20, 2022
Look at all that Jesus brought with Him when He came from Heaven to earth. He came preaching, in order that we receive His Gospel message and comply with it. He came teaching, in order that we gain instruction and equipment for knowing and for serving Him. Jesus also came healing, in order that He may make us whole in body—and otherwise. He came exorcising, in order that He may free us from demonic possession—and, increasingly, from demonic attack. Today, Jesus comes saving. Today, we see salvation come to a certain house—namely, to Zacchaeus.
Salvation is deliverance from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. It is also rescue from sin’s consequence and healing from sin’s damage. Jesus came to accomplish this in His elect—including, I pray, all of us in this sanctuary today. Let us hear once again the Word of God read and proclaimed in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
We meet Jesus late in His public ministry. He is passing through Jericho—though not merely passing through, as we shall see soon. In Jericho, there lived a man named Zacchaeus. He indeed (the Greek construction is emphatic) was a chief tax collector. He was responsible for a relatively large geographic region, and he had other tax collectors working under him. He indeed, also, was wealthy. He may well be compensated amply by Rome, and likely he bilked the taxpayers in his region—in order to enrich himself over and above his usual pay. Zacchaeus almost certainly endured the hatred and scorn of the Jewish population in and around Jericho. He likely was a Jew (the Greek name Zacchaeus likely rises from the Aramaic [i.e., late Hebrew dialect] Zakkai), yet he enriched the hated Romans at Jewish expense. Hence, he was perceived as a traitor to his people—worthy, in polite Jewish society, to be derided, to be shunned, and worse.
This Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus—though the Lord, in His Word, does not tell us why. Zacchaeus could not see Jesus, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. We soon discern how much Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus—for whatever reason—because Scripture displays that his desire to see Jesus outstripped his dignity. He ran, in the plain sight of the throng, to obtain better position to see Jesus. Running was a most undignified thing for a man of position in that culture to do. Yet Zacchaeus ran to gain a better vista to see Jesus. Moreover, he degraded himself further by climbing a tree. Zacchaeus chose a good tree, mind you: a sycamore—a large tree with large branches that would support his weight easily. This, again, He did in order to see Jesus as He passed by. Zacchaeus, now the object of ridicule in addition to all the foregoing, waits from prime perch to see Jesus pass the spot.
Presently Jesus arrives under Zacchaeus’ perch—and He calls Zacchaeus by name (How did He know his name?). Jesus now has Zacchaeus’ attention, and He tells him to hurry down from the tree, for He must stay (an hour or two, perhaps overnight: Greek meno [μενω]) at his house. Zacchaeus, for his part, complies—rejoicing to have Jesus in his home. The crowd’s response to this is anything but joyous. Instead, they grumble, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” This grumbling likely has a fair portion of incredulity intermixed. For why would this allegedly holy man do this? Why would He keep company with such a profligate?
Zacchaeus is a different man by the time he speaks. His response to Jesus’ invitation of Himself to his home displays fruit in keeping with repentance—repentance that, as we shall see, leads to life. He declares that he gives half his goods to the poor—not in his last will and testament, but immediately. He further declares that he will refund any fraudulent gain four-fold. The if appears rhetorical, and it introduces Zacchaeus’ elliptic confession of his sin. This will cost Zacchaeus considerably: resources, to be sure, but it may cost him further esteem as the truth comes out concerning him. Yet look what he gains—a gain far beyond the sum of his losses.
Jesus’ declarates, in view of Zacchaeus’ response to Him, “Today salvation has come to this house.” This salvation comes not by works, but by grace—yet the works that Zacchaeus proposes testify to repentance unto life. This man, after all, is a son of Abraham: not only biologically, to be sure, but also (and especially) having the faith of Abraham—a faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ (cf. John 8:56, Romans 4:12). Jesus concludes the whole with a saying worthy of long ponder, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
You see, Zacchaeus was lost. He lived only for himself—to accumulate wealth and to obtain a great name. Though Zacchaeus was lost, the Lord Jesus found him. He found him quite literally, in the tree, and He found him spiritually as well—for faith, rescue, and healing. The evidence of Jesus’ saving work lies in Zacchaeus’ proposed works—works consistent with repentance unto life abundant and eternal.
Jesus came saving. The question of the day—yea, of the ages—is this, “Are you saved, by God’s grace, through God-given faith in His Son (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9)?” Have you realized your need of salvation? For to keep all the Law of God and yet to offend in one point is to be guilty of all (James 2:10), for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).
Obviously, we need to be saved, for the alternative is dire indeed. Have you come to Jesus for that salvation? Be encouraged toward Jesus, and His salvation, with these Scripture promises. First, though the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord (Romans 6:23). Second, as Jesus said one day at Capernaum synagogue, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Rest in these and like promises, and come to Jesus—or keep coming, as the case may apply.
Have you, like Zacchaeus, seen fruit in and from your life that testifies that salvation has come to you? Have you sensed in your life a Godly sorrow for sin, with an increasing desire to forsake it? Are you noting an increasing desire for the things of the Lord: Scripture, prayer, public worship, and the like. Are you having increasing desire toward good works—and these with an eye to the glory of God and the good of many? If you answer these questions generally in the affirmative, then the circumstantial evidence for your salvation is strong.
If indeed you are saved, by God’s grace, through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, then all is well—inexpressibly well—and shall be well to all eternity. If not, then now is a great time to receive God’s indescribable gift: His glorious salvation. Simply cry out to Him for it. As we noted earlier, the one crying out to Him for rescue never shall find himself disappointed. Jesus came saving. Believe on Him, or continue to believe on Him, and be saved—even thou, and thine house (Acts 16:31).