The Zacchaeus Effect

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

To Be Saved, You Must Receive Jesus Christ
As Both Lamb And Lord

Last week I preached from Matthew 20 about the Cup of Christ. Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem, not just to celebrate the Passover, but to BE the Passover. Jesus drank the cup of judgment so that we who believe in Him can be saved. The Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 5:7 … Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us …

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who gave Himself for us. The disciples did not understand. Many today are just as confused. Jesus Christ had to die on Calvary, making payment for our sins, so that we – if we believe in Him – can one day be members of Heaven. Heaven is NOT the default home of every person. Heaven is God’s home, and God is holy. God is holy. God is holy!

Psalm 99:9 Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy.

Our God is of purer eyes than to behold evil. Our God cannot look on iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13).

Sin has always been a barrier between God and His creation.

Isaiah 59:2 but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that GOD will not hear.

This is why Jesus had to die. Jesus is the Bridge between God and Man. God incarnate, He came from Heaven, and was made flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14). He lived among us. He kept the Law of God complete and perfectly … no sin was found in Him.

Jesus, God become man, became sin on the Cross, and was punished as a sinner in my place and yours. He did this to raise us up to God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Last week I promised you a sermon from this text:

Matthew 20:29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.

I told you that there was another sermon within this sermon. Jesus and His disciples departed from Jericho, and a great multitude followed them.

Something significant happened in Jericho, significant enough to cause a great multitude to follow Jesus.

The “Jericho” in our text today is not the same Jericho that Joshua marched around (Joshua 6:1-27). Remember Joshua? In their first battle, God told Israel to march around Jericho, once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day. You remember that Jericho? It was the first battle that Israel fought in Canaan. God fought for them … and the walls of that Jericho fell down.

There Is A Man In Jericho That Has Built Walls Around His Life. This Man Needs Jesus!

Jesus is going to Jericho to save a sinner in need. Jesus will not have to march around this man daily for six days. This man is miserable. He knows he is in need. He has riches, but no joy, for he has no Jesus!

The Jericho Jesus enters is a place where Tax Collectors gathered, a place where taxes were paid to Rome.

Matthew, an ex-tax collector, does not record
what happens in Jericho. Please turn to Luke 19.

Luke 19:1-2 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

Jesus knows your heartaches. He sees your scars. Zacchaeus was a rich, scarred man. He needed Jesus – and Jesus came to him.

Word Study We can learn a lot of Zacchaeus just by studying his name. When Zacchaeus was born, his parents had high hopes for him. The name “Zacchaeus” in the Hebrew means “pure, clean, justified, one who is righteous”. His parents wanted Zacchaeus to grow up and be a great believer in God. Yet his path was different from what his parents wanted. His parents did their best to lead their son to the Lord, but he strayed. If you have a child you love who has strayed, remember the promise of God:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Word Study Zacchaeus, like many of us, got off course of his parents training. The Bible says that Zacchaeus “is chief among the publicans”. The “publican” was a tax collector. If there was ever a group of people hated by the Israelite, it was the tax collector. Tax collectors (“public” officials or “publicans”) were hated because they often over-charged on people’s taxes, and pocketed the excess. Tax collectors were wealthy, while their customers starved. Tax collectors were known as crooks, but also known as traitors to Israel. The money the tax collectors took were used to fund the Roman Army, the same military that dominated Israel and robbed her of freedom. Zacchaeus is not just a tax collector, he is a “chief tax collector” ( Greek ἀρχιτελώνης architelṓnēs, {pronounced ar-khee-tel-o’-nace}), a Tax Commissioner over the District of Jericho. The only way you could get this juicy job was to be well connected among the Romans, or else to purchase the job by bribing Roman officials.

If tax collectors were hated, Zacchaeus was the most hated among the hated. He was rich. Zacchaeus got rich by taking advantage of others. The Bible says:

Proverbs 21:6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.

To rob others in order to fill your own pockets is to invite the judgment of God. Wealth is not in and of itself sinful, unless you worship your wealth as your god. The Bible says “the LOVE OF MONEY is the ROOT OF ALL EVIL” (1 Timothy 6:10). Zacchaeus pursued wealth at the expense of his countrymen. He was rich with money, but poor in friends and faith.

Broken People Need The Lord Jesus!

Luke 19:3 … And Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Broken people need the Lord. When people share their pain with us who are Christ followers, the best thing we can do for them is bring them to Jesus. Jesus loves the broken and the broken hearted. Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus, Who He was. Our text tells us that two things stood in Zacchaeus’ way:

  1. The crowd kept Zacchaeus from Jesus. So often broken people let those around them hinder them from coming to Jesus. In our sermon last week we talked about two blind men who called out to Jesus for help (Matthew 20:30). The crowd began to tell them to hush up. They refused to be hindered by the crowd. They yelled LOUDER (the Greek word is “crayzo” – like crazy men) until they got the Lord’s attention. They needed Jesus.

Sometimes the broken are afraid of what their peers will say about them. Oh, how often have we let pride stand in our way, keeping us from Jesus. We want to blend in with the crowd. James warned (James 4:4), “Do you not know that friendship with the world will make you the enemy of God?” (my paraphrase). The world is bound in spiritual darkness.

Sometimes we hang out with the wrong crowd. The Apostle said in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled. Bad company will corrupt good morals” (my paraphrase). Often the crowd will block us from Jesus. But Beloved, if we want to be blessed, we need to ignore the crowd, ignore our pride, and run to Jesus. Has He not promised:

Matthew 11:28-29 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

There is no better place to be, than in the arms of Jesus. Do not let the crowd hinder you from learning of Him, of Who He is! Jesus wants us to come to Him like little children, for He said:

Matthew 19:14 … for of such {little children} is the Kingdom of Heaven {populated}

  1. Sometimes our own limitations keep us from Jesus. Zacchaeus was “small of stature”. He was limited by his birth. Had he been taller, he could have gotten a glimpse of Jesus over the heads of the crowd. Over the years I have asked many to come to Jesus, to surrender their lives to Him to be blessed. Yet sometimes people remark, “I am unworthy – I am small of stature”. Beloved, we are all unworthy. None of us deserve Jesus. The Bible tells us that:

Romans 3:23 all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

I have quoted this verse many times to audiences in four states, and have always pointed out “ALL have sinned”. All means all. We are all unworthy. We are all unable. We are all lacking when compared to God. But God knows this – this is why He sent Jesus to us. It was just today, as I worked on this sermon, that the second part of that text struck me ….

Romans 3:23 AND COME SHORT of the glory of God

Like Zacchaeus, we are ALL too short to meet God face to face. We are all unworthy.

So many people miss out on blessing because they think they are tall enough to please God … but they are too short. How will we fix this? Well, how did Zacchaeus fix his limitations? How did he get past the barrier of the crowd, and the barrier of his limitations?

Luke 19:4 … And (Zacchaeus) ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

Zacchaeus put away his pride, Got Away From The Crowd, and Climbed A Tree!

Proverbs 16:18 tells us that Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit {גֹּבַהּ gôbahh, (pronounced go’-bah)}, that is, a high or arrogant spirit before a fall.

Zacchaeus had every human right to be proud. He was, after all, a Tax Commissioner. He had many men working for him. He could have just went about his own way, trusting in his own abilities and his own rightness, and he would have met eternal damnation. Zacchaeus RAN to a place where Jesus could find him.

Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

Zacchaeus put himself in the path of Jesus by climbing a tree. Oh, that Adam had CLIMBED A TREE instead of EATING FROM A TREE (Genesis 2:16-17)!

It was a tree that caused humanity to fall into sin. But it was through a tree that God would save humanity. God gave a law, and Adam failed that law. But God sent His Son Jesus Christ to this earth for us. The Bible says …

Galatians 3:12-14 the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Jesus bore our curse hanging on a Tree, the Cross of Calvary. The Apostle tells us:

1 Peter 2:23-25 {Jesus}, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. Where did he run? To a tree. If you want to see Jesus, you need to run to the Tree of Calvary. You need to climb that Tree, and die with Jesus on that Cross. Identify with Him. Declare with the Apostle:

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Meet Jesus At The Tree, And He Will Abide With You

Luke 19:5-6 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

Oh how wonderful it was the day I ran to the tree! When Jesus looked up, there I was. Come down, Zacchaeus … I MUST ABIDE at thy house. When we meet Jesus where He is, surrendering our pride, Jesus comes to our house. He says,


The word translated “ABIDE” is the Greek μένω ménō, (pronounced men’-o), which means “to remain at or tarry with”. Jesus was not just coming for a visit. He was coming to dwell in Zacchaeus’ heart. It is God’s will that:

Ephesians 3:17 Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith

Jesus was not just going to visit. He was coming to Zacchaeus’ home, to his heart, and was going to stay with him by faith. Jesus said “I MUST ABIDE”. The Bible promises that our God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9):

Romans 10:12-13 … the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Zacchaeus needed Jesus. He called upon the name of the Lord. Maybe not out loud, but from his heart. The Bible says that:

Luke 19:6 {Zacchaeus} received him joyfully

Zacchaeus RECEIVED Jesus with joy in his heart. The Bible tells us that:

John 1:10-13 {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Zacchaeus was saved that very moment. But then there are those who think they are righteous without the Tree. They are mentioned next.

Luke 19:7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Word Study This is an amusing but somewhat tragic text. The text is amusing because the word translated “MURMURED” comes from a root word which is from the buzzing of bees (διαγογγύζω (diagongyzō)). There were buzzes all around Jesus from the indignant and self righteous people in the crowd. These people were probably Scribes and Pharisees, as this was not the first time they “buzzed among themselves” over Jesus being with sinners.

Luke 15:2 … the Pharisees and Scribes murmured (buzzed among themselves), saying, this man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Jesus told them then that there is …

Luke 15:7 … Joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Oh, so often the self righteous murmur when the “bad people” come to Jesus! “Jesus, why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? (Luke 5:30). Jesus is quick to point out:

Luke 5:31 They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Beloved, self righteousness is one of the greatest of all sins. God says of the self righteous that:

Isaiah 65:2-3, 5 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; 3 a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face… 5 which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

Jesus told these Pharisees and Scribes,

Matthew 21:31 the Tax Collectors and the Prostitutes go into the Kingdom of God before you (my paraphrase)

Oh Beloved, do not let self righteousness well up in your hearts. We all, like Zacchaeus, must run to the Tree of Calvary. We must acknowledge our brokenness. We must see Jesus. When we do, Jesus will come home with us. He will live in our hearts, and change our lives.

The Saved Live For Jesus

Those who are saved by grace, live as Children of Light, Children of God. We are not saved by our works. The Bible says:

Titus 3:5-6 … not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;

Once saved by faith in a magnificent Jesus, we then begin to live for Him. The proof of your salvation is in how you live your life after you have been saved. The Pharisees and Scribes SAID they were saved. But what followed their salvation? The stepbrother of our Lord Jesus said:

James 2:17-20 … faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

When you meet Jesus, it transforms your life. The blind who met Jesus went away seeing. The lepers who met Jesus went away cleansed. The crippled who met Jesus walked away on two good feet. The deaf who met Jesus went away, hearing the birds in the trees for the first time in their lives. The dead who met Jesus rose up, and lived again. Beloved, if you have met Jesus, it will change your life. Look at Zacchaeus! Witness his changed life:

Luke 19:8 And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord…

Notice that first of all Zacchaeus stood up for Jesus. Zacchaeus addressed Jesus as “Lord”. Did not Jesus say:

Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

If you claim to be a Christian, but will not stand up for Jesus, then you are assuredly not where you need to be spiritually. Zacchaeus told the Lord:

Luke 19:8 … Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

When a person is saved by faith in Christ, they are saved from the heart outward!

Zacchaeus gave away half of his riches to the poor, a clear sign that he was changed. A rich lost person loves their riches. Zacchaeus loved the Lord Jesus. The Bible says:

Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

When you give as you should, God will bless you. Zacchaeus no longer worshiped money. He now worshiped the Lord. He also promised to return all that he had previously gotten by “false accusation”. This was how the tax collectors got rich – they lied to people, and over charged them. Zacchaeus said that, as he had been taking by over charging, he would restore by over giving. After he said this our Lord said:

Luke 19:9-10 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Are you saved by faith in Christ? If you are not, today would be a wonderful day to follow Zacchaeus’ example. Put away your self righteousness. Get away from the crowd that is this world. Run to the Tree. Climb that Tree, for there you will see Jesus – and Jesus will see you!

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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