May 18, 2016
Genesis 3:8; Luke 19:1-4; I Peter 2:24
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Genesis 3:8 showed us the sinning man among the trees, hiding from God! We learned from John 3:18 and 19 that this is what sin does – it makes us hide from God! And if we remain in this sinful condition, we will end up in an eternal hell, separated from God forever! But Jesus paid the price for our sin, for our reconciliation back to the Father. When we accept the Lord as our Savior, we have eternal life! (See John 5:24).
Then we were introduced to Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1 through 4 – the seeking man up a tree:
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was
a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.
And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd,
for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a Syca-
more tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.
“Zacchaeus…[being] a chief tax collector…,” was hated by the other Jews! Tax collectors or publican were Jews hired by the Roman government to collect taxes for the Roman Empire. And they were also allowed to collect extra, cheating their fellow countrymen out of as much money as they could!
Zacchaeus was a short man who could not see the Master from the back of the crowd, the people who followed Him through Jericho, Zacchaeus’ hometown. But he so wanted to see Jesus – whom he had heard so much about – that he ran ahead and climbed up a Sycamore tree! Jesus passed right underneath! But then the Lord stopped, looked up at the despised little man, “…and said, to him, Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Wow! Jesus did not despise him! He was actually going to host this One at his very own house!
All this showed that this tax collector was seeking the Lord with all his heart! He even gave little thought to the fine clothes he was probably wearing when “…he ran ahead and climbed up into a Sycamore tree….” It reminds me of what God tells us in Jeremiah 29:13: “And you will seek Me, and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” When you see your need for Jesus Christ – when you see yourself as a lost sinner, and Him being the only Savior – then God is right there for you, stretching out His hand to save you! (See Matthew 14:29-31).
Reading the account of Jesus and Zacchaeus in Luke 19, it seems that there is no time break between verses 6 and 8:
And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully….Then
Zacchaeus stood and said unto the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my
goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false
accusation, I restore fourfold.”
But Jesus probably stayed the whole afternoon, or perhaps even overnight, at Zacchaeus’ house. And they must have had a deep conversation! For it evidently changed Zacchaeus to the core! As they were departing, Zacchaeus told Jesus that he would donate half of all his riches to the poor, and that he would pay back four times over to anyone he had previously cheated! He was obeying the Jewish law of Exodus 22:1: “If a man steals an ox or a sheep…he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.” The Lord saw Zacchaeus’ declaration as evidence of the man’s deep spiritual change! For He announced in Luke 19:9 and 10, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
But we have one more of Trees to examine, and one more Man associated with that tree – the sinless Man upon the tree! Peter writes of Jesus in I Peter 2:24: “…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.” Tree is another way the ancients described the cross. And it is on the basis of what Jesus Christ accomplished on Calvary’s cross that Zacchaeus – or anyone else – can be saved! What did Jesus accomplish? It is well-described by the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 5:21: “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
So there you have it – Trees! The sinning man among the trees, the seeking man up a tree, and the sinless Man upon the tree! It is a succinct way to present the important points of the gospel! It is also a good three-point outline for a sermon, pastors!