Zacchaeus, Hurry On Down!
1. "Zacchaeus, hurry on down. I would like very much to stay at your house today," (verse five). These are words Jesus said. The Lord's words have power. The Lord's words brought decisive change to the life of a man named Zacchaeus. Jesus put the surprising thing that happened to Zacchaeus into the following expression: "Salvation has come to this house today." Salvation came upon one person. Salvation came upon one house. Salvation came through the Lord's words. As we consider what the Lord has said and what his message to Zacchaeus might have meant and also what that message might mean to us, we want to get an appreciation for today's passage of scripture together.
Jesus Calls A Name
2. "Zacchaeus, hurry on down." That was how the Lord called out to Zacchaeus. First, I would like for us to direct our attention to the fact that the Lord called Zacchaeus' name.
3. Above anything else, it means that Jesus cared about Zacchaeus as a person with a name of his own. It is in direct contrast to how others had to do with him. What did other people call Zacchaeus? They called Zacchaeus "a sinful man." "Sinful man" was not his name. It was one of the smear words to lump him in a category.
4. Sticking such a label on a person has a background to it. He was a head tax collector. To be a tax collector, one must have a contract with the authority to tax on an outsourced level. You would need some money to buy that authority. I suppose most generally that that authority was bid on at a considerably high sum of money. The reason people will go that far must be that it is very profitable. In the job of a tax collector there was room for all kinds of cheating to creep in. As a result, they could get rich. But, as a drawback to that, they lost their identities as Jews. In taxing their countrymen for the Gentiles and then lining their own pockets, the tax collectors were no longer recognized as people of God. The people called them sinners. Whether it was Zacchaeus or some other [tax collector type], it wasn't the issue. "Tax collector" was equivalent to "sinner."
5. But, Jesus did not call Zacchaeus "hey, tax collector," "yo, sinner!" He called him with "Zacchaeus!" As Zacchaeus is first of all Zacchaeus to Jesus, being a tax collector or being some sinner has no precedence [with Jesus]. That's right, the Lord cares for us the same way. We tack on different labels. We label people good, bad, tolerant, intolerant, liberal, conservative, Japanese, foreign ... . We do that and after classifying ourselves and others according to those labels, we treat them as such. But, to Jesus we are first of all unique persons with names. We are one of a kind, no sub can take our place. Here Zacchaeus hears the caring call of the Lord out to him in such a context.
6. Then also, the fact that the Lord called the name "Zacchaeus" means that the Lord himself had been on a search for Zacchaeus.
7. Of course, it goes without saying that "Zacchaeus" was seeking Jesus. It says that he "was trying to see who Jesus was." It's different from the babyish curiosity of wanting to see some entertainer. Granted that he was short and he couldn't see because of being blocked by the crowd, but it was abnormal that an adult would climb a sycamore tree. He was rich. He was well known, though in the sense of a bad reputation. When a man like him did something, it would automatically gather attention. When a hated person does something dumb, he or she is sure to become a target of scorn. But, even with all that against him, he climbed the tree. It shows how intensely he sought [Jesus]. He absolutely needed Jesus. He should take just one look, that would do it. He needed of Jesus only that much.
8. But, he encountered a shocking statement; it was "Zacchaeus!" Even though he was the one trying to see, it was Jesus who did the noticing. Even though he was trying to found out about Jesus, Jesus had already found out about him. Even though he was the one supposed to be doing the seeking, before that even, Jesus had been in search of him. In search of the lost, Jesus had come to save [him].
9. When I was small, I was a fidgety child and tended to wander off. Lost children cry like they were on fire [when] they search for their parents. But, even more than they do, even before they do, the parents search desperately for their child. When I became a parent, I learned that too well. Likewise, God sent his son and is in search of those who are lost. Zacchaeus encountered God on search for him in the voice of the Lord as he called his name, "Zacchaeus."
Hurry On Down!
10. So, after the Lord called out to him, he went on to say, "Hurry on down." Second, let's take up the words of the invitation.
11. The Lord knew Zacchaeus. He probably knew that he was a tax collector. But, he didn't turn to Zacchaeus and say, "Straighten out your life," or "Atone for every cheating thing you've done." He said, "Hurry on down."
12. The reason Zacchaeus hurries on down was first of all to come closer to Jesus. Zacchaeus was "wanting to see who this Jesus was." He certainly had been able to see. Since he was on a tree he could see quite well. However, Zacchaeus mustn't remain looking from just up [the tree]. He had to come down the tree and go closer to Jesus. That's how it is, the Lord tells us to "come down." It is important to direct our eyes with interest in "Who is Jesus? What does God mean? What does faith mean? What's this salvation stuff?" while watching from above like he did. But that alone won't result in salvation of any kind. The very important thing we are to do is to go closer to Jesus and come face to face with the Lord. We had better talk to him. Like Zacchaeus did, we need to say "O Lord." We need to pray. You can't have a real conversation on a tree and beneath it. You have to come down from [your] tree.
13. If I may add, Zacchaeus' reason for coming down was to welcome Jesus into his home. Jesus said, "I would like very much to stay at your house today." He had to receive the Lord into his home. A home is a place of day to day living. That's where the life of this man is. That's where his sin will be too. The house of Zacchaeus would have the wealth that he accumulated by cheating. He had to receive Jesus into that place. - Not because it was nice and pretty. Dirty as it was, stained with sin as it was, still and all, he would have to receive the Lord into his house. He must receive Jesus into his every day life, his very being.
14. So, the only reason [anyone] would receive the Lord into [your] home would be to have fellowship with the Lord. Jesus' saying "I want to stay" doesn't just mean "Let me spend the night." Zacchaeus sits down at the table with the Lord. He has a meal with the Lord. He converses with the Lord. He spends time with the Lord. The faith life is defined as a lifestyle of knowing Jesus. It is not simply a life that knows the Lord intellectually, but it is a lifestyle of fellowshipping in life [like] eating a meal with the Lord and spending time with the Lord. Worship on the Lord's Day expresses this clearly. In this place we have a meal with the Lord, enjoy fellowship with the Lord, and spend time with Him. Each of our every day lives is an extension to what goes on in this place.
Salvation Has Come To This House
15. As a result of this, what happened to Zacchaeus? Zacchaeus began with "O Lord, I will donate half of my wealth to the poor. Also, if I have taken anything from anyone falsely, I will pay it back fourfold," (verse eight). This is the fruit that interaction with Jesus caused. When his life began to really be rich, fresh shoots re-appeared, the leaves turned so lavishly green, and rich fruit was borne on a tree that seemed dead. Make no mistake. Jesus did not come because he had given out half his property. Jesus did not come because he had paid back fourfold the amount he took fraudulently. This was the fruit that came out of his fellowship with Jesus.
16. What does that fruit mean? It means that he became able to live with others. He must have never even thought about the poor until then. He must have never given any thought to the pains of those he defrauded up to then. But, now he's different. When he became a man whose interaction and fellowship with Jesus came alive, he became a man whose interaction and fellowship with others came alive. Never [before] had he been a devout man knowing and loving God alone. He changed to a man who knew and loved his neighbor. He became a man who would live as God's people. This very point is a manifestation of God's salvation. It is the figure of a saved man. "Salvation has come to this house today."
17. So, salvation will come unto us as well. It will come upon us through the word of the Lord. It will because Jesus has come to seek and to save whomever is lost. Even on this day, the Lord says to every lost modern Zacchaeus, "O Zacchaeus, hurry on down. I would like very much to stay at your house today."