And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.…
The incident here recorded provides a very good opportunity for the imagination. We can picture the scene before us quite vividly; it is a subject for the sacred artist. But let us look at the triumph of earnestness as illustrated in the story of Zacchaeus.
I. It triumphed over THE PERIL WHICH ATTENDS WEALTH. This man was rich (ver. 2). Riches are unfavourable to religious earnestness; we have Christ's own word for it (Luke 18:24; see homily). They present a very strong inducement to their owner to forsake the fountain of living waters, and to quench his thirst in the lower streams. Far too often they lead to luxury, to indulgence, to spiritual indifference. But Zacchaeus did not suffer this calamity to befall him, this fatal injury to be wrought upon him. His spiritual solicitudes won the victory over his temporal circumstances.
II. It triumphed over THE DEMORALIZING CALLING IN WHICH HE WAS ENGAGED. Our daily vocation must necessarily have a very great influence over us for good or evil; and if it be one that tends to lower and degrade a man, he is placed in the greatest possible peril. Much wisdom of mind, much resoluteness of soul, and much devoutness of spirit must be required to withstand the adverse powers. But though Zacchaeus was engaged in a pursuit that invited avarice and oppression, still he did not lose his religious earnestness.
III. It triumphed over AN EVIL REPUTATION. Few things are more degrading than a bad name. Men quickly become what they are supposed to be and what they are called. Let all his neighbours consider and call a man a rogue, and it will be strange indeed if he maintains his integrity. Yet, although Zacchaeus was denominated and dismissed as "a publican," spoken of by a term which was full of the strongest reproach, he did not descend to that level.
IV. It triumphed over THE OBSTACLES WHICH STOOD BETWEEN HIM AND CHRIST. He could not venture to solicit an interview with this holy Prophet; that he knew was completely barred by his vocation. He found it difficult to secure even a view of him as he passed along; his smallness of stature was against him. But such was his determination that he disregarded all considerations of dignity and decorum, and ran any risk of popular derision and affront, and climbed up, as if he had been a boy, into a tree to command a view of Jesus of Nazareth. So he prevailed.
V. IT WON WHOLLY UNEXPECTED GOOD.
1. The honour of entertaining this great Prophet at his own house; thus securing a standing to which he had long been a stranger.
2. The advantage of a protracted interview, an extended privilege, in which he could not only secure a few sentences from the great Teacher, but could unburden his heart to him and learn his holy will.
VI. IT LED TO NEWNESS OF LIFE. (Vers. 8, 9.) Zacchaeus from that day forth was a new man. His character was thenceforth determined: whatever selfishness or wrongness there had been, it should be renounced, and, where possible, reparation should be made. Character and life were to be cleansed and renewed; and Christ took him up into his favour and friendship. He was to be perfectly restored to the position he had lost. By his pursuit and practice he had become an alien, disinherited, no longer admitted to the services of the sanctuary. But now he was to be, in the fullest and deepest sense of the word, "a son of Abraham," a far truer son of his than many who prided themselves on their descent from the "father of the faithful." Thus earnestness of spirit completely prevailed.
1. Only earnestness will prevail. Indifference will go down to the death from which it is already not far removed. Halfheartedness will go only a very little way towards the goal; it will have to take some trouble and to suffer some pains, but it will not win the prize. Even impulsiveness, ]PGBR> which bears a considerable resemblance to earnestness, but is not the same thing, will fail before the way is trodden and the end secured. Only earnestness wins.
2. It always must. Whatever comes in the way; whatever inward or outward obstacles present themselves; whatever personal or social hindrances intervene; however victory be delayed; notwithstanding that the case may again and again seem hopeless; - still in the end earnestness will succeed. Jesus Christ will manifest himself; he will be found in the home; his presence and his grace will fill the soul with joy; he will declare sonship and heirship to his devoted and determined follower. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.