And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.…
The healing of blind Bartimaeus was not the only saving act done by Jesus at Jericho. A notable publican, called Zacchaeus, becomes the object of our Lord's compassion and the subject of his grace. He was at the head of the custom-house, as we should now call it, and in his important post he had become rich. Having heard of Jesus and seen the advancing crowd, his curiosity prompted him to have a look at him if possible; but, being little of stature, he could not from the ground obtain the view he wished. Accordingly he ran before, climbed up into a sycamore tree, one of whose branches it has been supposed may have extended across the road, and, perched upon this, he awaited the advent of Jesus. How astonished he must have been to find Jesus pausing below his perch, looking up, naming him, and telling him, "Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house"! Thus invited, he came down with all haste, and received Christ joyfully. Doubtless the Pharisees will murmur at Christ becoming the publican's guest; but what does it matter when Zacchaeus is gathered into the kingdom of God, makes his declaration about future conduct, and receives the Lord's assurance of being Abraham's son? Let us notice the points of interest as they present themselves in this case.
I. ZACCHAEUS NEEDED A SAVIOUR. For success is not sufficient for any man. He needs besides, salvation from sin, that is, from selfishness, and often from success itself. It is well when even curiosity leads a man to the Saviour, and to a sense of his great need. Zacchaeus's case is instructive for us all. His need of a Saviour ought to emphasize our need.
II. HIS HINDRANCES. IN SEEKING THE SAVIOUR. And of these we shall only mention three.
1. His riches. These are often a great hindrance to souls. They compete with Christ as a ground of trust. Men are tempted to trust in uncertain riches instead of in the living God. Zacchaeus had, however, got over this hindrance, and, rich man though he was, he was not ashamed to climb the sycamore to get a sight of Jesus.
2. His business. For the tax-farming had been denounced and excommunicated by the Jewish authorities, so that Zacchaeus, because of his business, did not enjoy the means of grace in the measure and amount he might otherwise have done. Jesus had, however, overcome this hindrance by his own manly and merciful policy, and insisted on associating with publicans and sinners to save them. Every one should ask himself the question, however, if his business is a hindrance or a help to his salvation. Can we ask Christ to meet us in it and save us in it? or can we only expect him to save us from it?
3. His physical state. His stature hindered him for a time from seeing Jesus, as the physical state of others often hinders them. But when one is thoroughly in earnest, he can overcome all hindrances as Zacchaeus did by climbing the sycamore. Hindrances may be changed by energetic action into helps and spiritual gains.
III. SALVATION MEANS HEARTFELT SYMPATHY WITH A PERSONAL SAVIOUR. For salvation comes to us clothed in loving personality, and the advent of Jesus to our souls, as in the case of Zacchaeus, is the advent of salvation. What we are asked in the gospel to do is to trust a Person, and to accept of safety in his blessed society. There is no abstract and confusing process to be passed through, but a concrete and real fellowship to be entered on and enjoyed.
IV. THE SAVED SOUL PROVES HIS SALVATION BY LIBERALITY AND RESTITUTION. As soon as Zacchaeus enters into sympathy with Christ, he makes a public profession. Here is his resolve deliberately made to Christ, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wrongfully exacted aught of any man, I restore fourfold" (Revised Version). His riches are now to be made a means of grace, enabling him, in the first place, liberally to make restitution to all wronged ones; and secondly, to dedicate largely to the poor. Contact with Christ has opened his heart and made him open-handed. Murmuring Pharisees might restrict their ostentatious almsgiving to a tenth, but converted Zacchaeus will dedicate a half to the wants of the poor! A rich man may thus make his wealth the basis of princely generosity, and reap a reward in the gratitude of God's poor people.
V. JESUS GIVES ZACCHAEUS A BLESSED ASSURANCE OF SONSHIP. For Zacchaeus, if originally a Jew, had forfeited through his tax-gathering his position in the Jewish Church. No longer would the son of Abraham or Jewish authorities regard him as a heir of the promises. But Jesus interposes and reinstates him in his position of privilege. He declares before the guests that Zacchaeus has been saved by his visit to his house, and that this salvation-visit is because the publican is also a son of Abraham. In this beautiful way the selecting love of God in Christ is set before the people and the assurance of Abrahamic sonship conveyed to the new convert. It is thus the Lord comforts those who trust in him.
VI. CHRIST THUS DEMONSTRATES HIS MISSION TO SEEK AND SAVE THE LOST. Not by the parables of the fifteenth chapter merely does he demonstrate the merciful character of his mission, but also by such a missionary act as the salvation of Zacchaeus. As "the Son of man" he is interested in the welfare of his race, and finds in the lost the sphere of his gracious operation. It is thus he comforts the lost ones, by enabling them to see that they are the proper objects of his compassion. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.