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Where the Saviour and the Sinner Meet
1. A sinner seeking to see the Saviour. The fame of Jesus had swept into all the regions about. Great crowds continually thronged Him. He was constantly teaching and preaching, healing and helping. Many thought that it would be He who would immediately rescue Israel from the curse of Roman tyranny. Others, stirred up by the rulers and leaders of the Jews, swarmed against Christ, to entangle Him in His talk that they might have whereof to accuse Him.
We boldly declare that Zacchaeus was a sinner, seeking a Saviour. We believe that Christ's treatment of him supports us in so doing. Let us now look at the other side of our story.
2. A Saviour seeking to save a sinner. Once more let us watch the throng, and, particularly, watch the Lord as He approaches the man up the tree. Jesus knew all things. He knew that all men thought He would immediately set up His Kingdom; and yet He knew that He would not do so. He knew the ass was tied at another tree further on, awaiting His coming. He knew how soon the cries of the about to be uttered "Hosannahs," would be changed into the louder cries of "Crucify Him!"
The Saviour who was always alert as a seeker of those sinners who sigh and cry, lifted up His face and said; "Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house."
Christ, without hesitation, said, "This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a soul of Abraham."
3. The far-flung prophecy of the salvation of Zacchaeus. When Christ said; "Forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham," He seemed to be saying, beforehand, the very words that soon after fell from His lips; "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, * * how often would I * * but ye would not." What we mean is this. When Christ said to Zacchaeus, "This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham"; and when He said these other words, that followed: "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost," His mind and heart was leaping from the one man to the greater multitude even to the whole nation of Israel. Thus in Zacchaeus' redemption Christ gave prophecy of Israel's future hope.
I. THE THREE TREES (Luke 19:4 )
1. There is the man under the tree the sinner. Our mind goes back to the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve hid themselves from God under the trees of the garden. Our first parents, in this, are not at all unlike their descendants.
The garden scene is the picture of God seeking the sinner, and the sinner hiding away from God. Alas! Alas! this is too often true in the life of the wicked. The Lord seems to be saying, "How oft would I, but ye would not." All day long He is calling as He holds out His hands to a disobedient and a gainsaying people.
2. There is the man up the tree the seeker. Zacchaeus wanted to see Christ. God had evidently been working in his heart. We do not know what it was, but there must have been something which led this publican to seek his Lord.
We trust that there are many today who will be looking for the Master. If there is one who is now seeking" Him, we can truly say, "Ye shall find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart."
3. There is the man on the tree the Saviour. Our mind now goes to the Lord Jesus Christ as He hangs upon the Cross, dying for us. We have read how He, Himself, once said, "And I, if I be lifted up * * will draw all men unto Me."
It was when the bitten Israelites turned their faces to the uplifted brazen serpent that they were healed. It is when we, who are sinners, turn our faces to the uplifted Christ, that we are healed. In Him we see a sacrifice sufficient for all, but efficient only to those who believe.
II. MAY SINNERS SEEK THE SAVIOUR? (Luke 19:1-2 )
Let us look at Zacchaeus.
1. He was a publican. The publicans were reckoned by the religionists of that day as chief among sinners. Nevertheless, one publican at least was saved. Zacchaeus found mercy. There was another publican, who would not so much as lift his eyes up to Heaven, but who, beating upon his breast, prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner." He also obtained mercy.
God has said, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."
2. He was a rich man. Even Christ said, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" And yet, Zacchaeus, the rich man was saved. Zacchaeus, moreover, was rich through false dealings. He knew how to drive a close bargain. He could legally rob men. He pressed his way over the cry of the impoverished and the needy, and yet, he found mercy. With men it would have been impossible, but with God all things are possible.
3. He was a small man. Of course a man's height has nothing to do with his becoming saved.
Zacchaeus was more than small physically. We take it that he was "small" in his dealings. He was mean and miserly, and yet, Zacchaeus was saved. Certainly if this chief of publicans and of sinners could be saved, all other sinners may safely seek the Saviour.
III. HOW SINNERS MAY SEEK THE SAVIOUR (Luke 19:3-4 )
We would not suggest that the sinner seeks the Saviour before the Saviour seeks the sinner. God must have been working on the heart of Zacchaeus, or else he would not have sought as he sought.
1. Zacchaeus surmounted obstacles. He was but a little man, and he couldn't see because of the press of the crowd: therefore, Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree. Obstacles may hinder the halfhearted and discouraged the weak-willed, but they only give zest to those who are dead in earnest.
2. Zacchaeus brooked no delay. We read that he ran before and climbed up into the tree. His opportunity to see Christ would not have tarried. The Lord was passing by and would soon be gone upon His way. Zacchaeus, therefore, redeemed the time; bought up his chance, and did it in a hurry.
3. Zacchaeus was energetic. He climbed the tree. He was in earnest. Have you not read: "Ye shall find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart"? The halfhearted never get anywhere. Gideon and his men were faint, yet pursuing.
IV. HOW THE SAVIOUR RECEIVES THE SINNER (Luke 19:5 )
1. Christ came to where Zacchaeus was. Our verse says, "And when Jesus came to the place." Is not this true today? Has Jesus not come down from Heaven seeking to save that which was lost? Does He not even stand at this moment at the sinner's heart, asking for admission?
The one who is searching for Christ could not go to Heaven to find Christ if he wanted to. Thank God, Christ came to him!
2. Christ looked up and saw Zacchaeus. It is all right for the sinner to see the Saviour, and to see in Him the Man of Calvary, the Christ of the empty tomb, and the Lord at the Father's throne. It is, however, just as true that Christ sees the sinner. He sees his need. He sees his desires. He looketh upon the heart.
3. Christ invited Zacchaeus to come down. With what joy must Zacchaeus, the sinner, have heard the words of Christ, the Saviour, as He said, "Make haste, and come down." The invitations of the Lord are many, and they are as sincere and urgent as they are true.
V. HOW THE SINNER RECEIVED THE SAVIOUR (Luke 19:6 )
1. Zacchaeus made haste and came down. We would like, just now, to impress the obedience of faith. We do not think for one moment that Zacchaeus was saved merely by obedience. We believe that back of his prompt action and his readiness to obey, there lay an unmovable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is by faith, and not of works; and yet, the faith that saves is a working faith, or a faith that works. The lame, the halt, the blind, the leper, the demoniac; all believed, all were saved by faith; and yet, in no instance was their faith a dead faith. It was a living, moving, responsive, acting faith.
2. Zacchaeus received Christ joyfully. There are some who have forgotten that with joy we should drink of the waters of salvation. A sinner may weep and mourn over his sin; but, why should he weep when by faith he sees his sins nailed to the Tree, and knows that salvation is his by accepting the Saviour?
We read that on the Day of Pentecost, "they that gladly received his word were baptized." Why not be glad about it? We fear that the one who professes salvation without a thrill of joy, or a sense of peace, has not really comprehended the scope of his redemption.
VI. WHAT CHRIST DID FOR ZACCHAEUS (Luke 19:5 , l.c., 9)
1. Christ saved him. He said, "This day is salvation come to this house." During the past years of his life Zacchaeus had obtained many financial laurels through much labor and strain: on this day he obtained something worth more than all that he had ever secured through years of toil. In one moment he received salvation, the gift of God. That salvation made him an heir of God, and an inheritor of a city whose streets are of gold; whose walls are of every precious stone; and whose gates are each a several pearl.
2. Christ went to his house. How significant are the words, "I must abide at thy house"!
This is true in the life of every believer. When we are saved the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, takes up His abode with us. Christ not only comes in, but He conies in to abide. We may grieve the Lord; we may cause Him to hide His face for a moment; but He will never leave us, nor forsake us.
Not only will Christ abide in our heart, but He will gladly dwell with us in our home. The Lord said, "This day is salvation come to this house."
VII. WHAT ZACCHAEUS DID FOR CHRIST (Luke 19:8 )
There are two outstanding things which this verse suggests.
1. Zacchaeus called Jesus, Lord. There is a Scripture which says: "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." With Zacchaeus the word "Lord" was not used in a perfunctory way. Zacchaeus truly recognized Christ's Lordship, His authority, and His power.
The only real position of any Christian is that of worshipful obedience to a sovereign Lord. There may be many who seek to say, Lord, Lord, but who never do the things which He commands them. What we all need to do is to bend the head and take His yoke upon us.
2. Zacchaeus proved his sincerity by his deeds. He said, "The half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have tak-en any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold."
A large profession of faith and of fidelity to Christ is worthless unless it is followed by faithful living. The new life of the believer should manifest itself, first of all, in loyalty to God, and secondly, in loyalty to his fellow man.
The New Testament as well as the Old proclaims that grace teaches us how to live.
"Once, a young soldier from Glasgow, Scotland, who was a Christian, was talking to a comrade about accepting Christ as his Saviour. In their ears was the muffled sound of a funeral march being played as a comrade was being carried to his last resting place. The young Highlander, listening to the sounds of the funeral march and to the voice of his friend pleading with him to come to Christ, was greatly impressed. He said, 'Jack, I will not be a Christian now, but I promise I will become one when I leave the army.' He had only nine months longer to serve in the army. What a fateful decision he had made! Next week, there came orders for his regiment to embark to Egypt for duty. The two friends were in march side by side, going across the sands of the desert toward the Arab encampment the one with Christ in his heart, the other putting off salvation until his service was over when suddenly there came an attack from the Arabs and bullets poured in on all sides from the rifles of the enemy. After the attack, there, dead and cold, lay the body of the man who had put off accepting Christ until he should leave the service.
"There are many who know that they are sinners, who know that they need a Saviour, and who know that they should accept Christ as their Saviour. They think that some day they will accept Christ, but each day they put the deed off. What a dangerous thing it is to do! Why not accept Christ now? 'Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.'"
The Magnificat to the King
1. Step by step Christ moved on fulfilling prophecy. The whole life of the Lord Jesus Christ, from the cradle to the ascension, was a marvelous fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.
He was born as the Prophets wrote of Him; born of a virgin; born in Bethlehem; born a Child, given a Son; born of the lineage of David; His Name was called Immanuel.
He was brought up as the Prophets wrote of Him. An alien to His mother's children; called out of Egypt; raised in Nazareth; growing up as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.
He entered and pursued His ministry as the Prophets had afore declared. There was John, His forerunner, who went to prepare His way. There was the light springing up in Zabulon, and Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, as Isaiah wrote. Christ bore the sicknesses of the people according to Isaiah 53:4 . He fulfilled the Prophets in that He did not lift up His voice nor cry in the streets. The people fulfilled the Prophets in that they had ears to hear, which heard not; and eyes to see, which saw not. In this sermon we see, once more, step by step, He took up the trail, and pressed His way on, in accord with all that was foretold.
2. Step by step Christ moved toward His Cross, which was a climax of first coming prophecy. Calvary was ever the great consummation toward which Christ pressed His way. The triumphal entry into Jerusalem, mid the Hosannas of His disciples, did not deceive Him. He came near to the city, and wept over it. He knew that the days were fast coming when the enemy would cast a trench about the beloved city, and compass it around, and not leave one stone upon another, because they had not known the day of their visitation.
So it was, that, mid the clamor of the plaudits and the noise of the praise, Christ faced the Cross. With stately mien, and determinate purpose, He approached Jerusalem to die, and not to reign.
3. Step by step Christ was prefiguring the fulfilment of second coming prophecy. As Christ rode upon the ass and upon the colt the foal of an ass, He knew that all that Zechariah had spoken would not immediately be fulfilled. He had passed upward toward Jerusalem by the way of the Mount of Olives. He had sat upon the ass and had been acclaimed by the whole multitude of His disciples, as they said, "Blessed be the King that cometh in the Name of the Lord." There, however, the prophecy was broken off. Christ will come once more by the way of the Mount of Olives. Once more He will come as King of kings, and as Lord of lords, mid the glad acclaim of the people. In that day His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives; and the Lord, our God shall come and all the saints with Him.
I. THE PREFACE TO THE MAGNIFICAT (Luke 19:28 )
Our verse says, "And when He had thus spoken, He went before, ascending up to Jerusalem." It is very vital to the proper comprehension of this study, to briefly grasp the words which Christ had spoken before He went up to Jerusalem, and before the holy hosannas were sounded forth acclaiming Him King.
1. The words spoken before, manifested that Jesus knew the Cross and not the crown lay before Him. Beginning with verse eleven, we read, "And He (Jesus) added and spake a parable, because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the Kingdom of God should immediately appear."
In order to prepare His disciples for what would happen, Christ sought to forewarn them concerning His rejection and crucifixion. They thought Christ would immediately set up His Kingdom: the Lord knew that His Kingdom would not then be set up, but that in the stead thereof a cross would be set up on the hill of Golgotha.
There is no doubt but that Jesus knew that the Cross, and not the crown, lay before Him.
2. The words spoken before, were followed by Christ hastening on toward His death. The words are most striking. Our verse says, "He went before," that is, He hastened on ahead of His disciples, going up to Jerusalem. There is something very similar to this in the Book of Mark. Mark says, "And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed."
Then Jesus took the disciples and began to tell them how they were going up to Jerusalem, and how the Son of Man should be delivered unto the chief priests and scribes, and be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon, and killed.
Thus it was, that, knowing fully His death, He hastened on His way.
II. THE MESSAGE FROM THE MOUNT OF OLIVES (Luke 19:29 )
1. We stop a moment to ask, could Christ have ascended, then and there, from that mount? Of course, we all know, that a little while later, after His resurrection, He did ascend from the Mount of Olives. Why then could He not have ascended, as He stood there with His disciples? Had He gone on Home, He would have missed all of the anguish which He knew lay ahead of Him, the betrayal, the Cross, the thirst, the sword thrust; the raging mob wagging their heads against Him; the seven cries of the Cross; the darkness; the breaking of the blood vessels of His heart; the entombment all of these might have been missed, had He ascended as He stood hard by the Mount of Olives. But, not so. Christ knew that for the work of the Cross He had come into the world, and having loved His own, He loved them unto the end.
He pressed on His way through fire and flood, through darkness and death, in order that He might give His life a ransom for many.
2. We still linger a moment to ask, if Christ had ascended at that time, could He ever descend to reign and to rule on David's throne? The Mount of Olives nigh to Bethphage and Bethany is made prominent in the Scripture by two great events. First, it was from that Mount that He ascended, and secondly, it is to that Mount that He shall come in His Second Advent. The Prophet has told us, "His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem to the East."
Certainly our Lord was God. He lived and moved as one with the Father. He wrought out the Father's purposes and fulfilled the Father's will. It would, therefore, have been utterly impossible for Him to have broken the will of God, and to have ascended before His passion and resurrection. Had He broken that will, and had He ascended. He could never have descended, in fulfilment of Zechariah's prophecy; for there would have been no hearts made ready to receive Him, and no lips ready to acclaim Him King of kings and Lord of lords.
III. THE MASTER'S USE OF THE MENIAL ASS (Luke 19:30-31 ; Luke 19:34 )
Jesus said; "Ye shall find a colt tied." This colt was the foal of an ass.
It was not customary for kings to ride upon an ass. It is the horse, with strength and beauty; with proud mien, and with haughty step, that is generally chosen by a king.
Let us note then, therefore, a few things.
1. The Master had need of a lowly beast. The ass is a beast of burden. It is a beast cumbered with toil. It is a beast of humble carriage. It is meek, obedient, ready to serve.
Is there not then a spiritual significance to the word, "The Lord hath need of him"?
Where is he who has not felt himself the least among men, weak, unequipped, and unable to do the large thing, and the spectacular thing? Yet, for such an one the Master hath need. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 .
2. The Master's use of the ass, in glorified service. How wonderful it all was! The Lord of lords, and the destined King of kings; the One who was very God of very God, whom angels ever worshiped, rode, sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. This does not carry us from the sublime to the ridiculous. It dignifies the lowly. It glorifies the meek.
Are we not called into partnership with Jesus Christ? Are we not ambassadors of a King, doing royal service? How then hath the Lord honored His lowly ones?
IV. HOSANNAS AND HALLELUIAHS (Luke 19:37-38 )
What obeisance was shown the Lord Jesus upon this day? The people took their garments and cast them on the colt. Then, as Jesus went along, they spread their clothes in the way.
1. Let us view the humble, happy hearts of His disciples. They who gave voice to their praise, had reason to rejoice. Had Christ not proved a blessing to them all? He had moved in and out among them with words of comfort and of cheer. He had taught them the way of life, of light, and of love. He had healed their sick, fed their hungry, and raised their dead.
They who cried, "Blessed be the King that cometh in the Name of the Lord: peace in Heaven, and glory in the Highest," had another reason for their cry. He was the destined King of Israel, He was born King of the Jews; He was heralded as Israel's King and Deliverer; He was crucified King of kings, and He is coming a King, to take David's throne.
The people, as they cried, thought that the hour had struck and that the time had come for the fulfilment of all the Old Testament prophecies of Israel's restoration and of the Messiah's reign.
2. Let us transfer the voices of these hosannas to a coming age. The rejoicings and praise of that day were not long lived; and yet, they are the foregleam of another day. When Christ does come again, and the people behold Him whom they have pierced, and He is received into their love with open arms; then He will turn their sorrow into singing, and their sighs into shouts of joy.
The whole world shall yet reverberate with the praise of Christ's redeemed. Even the little children in the Temple will voice His praise. The King Himself will rejoice: He who reigns in the midst of Israel, will save, He will rejoice over His people with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over His people with singing.
V. RELIGIOUS PHARISEES PROFFER REMONSTRANCES (Luke 19:39-40 )
A cloud began to mar the beauty of the clear sky on that glorious day. At first it may have been no larger than a man's hand, but it grew until with the fierceness of a sweeping tornado it beat out its fury upon the form of the Crucified One.
1. The rulers were disparaging the Deity of the Lord. Those who acclaimed Christ on that fitful day proclaimed Him Lord, and King. They even worshiped Him, and thus acclaimed Him God. This the Pharisees condemned.
Jesus Christ had invariably claimed that He was God. He had taught the people that He had come forth from the Father, and had come into the world. He had said that He wrought the works of the Father, and spoke the words of the "Father. He had proclaimed that He was the Resurrection and the Life; that He was the Light of the world; that He was the Bread of Life; that He was the Door of the sheepfold; that He was the Good Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep.
The people now, who gathered about Him, were ready to grant His claims. They were willing to acknowledge Him as Lord. They hoped that the day of their deliverance from the tyranny of the Roman yoke had come.
In all of this the unbelieving Pharisees saw no more than the crumbling of their own power, and the loss of their own prestige. Therefore, they declaimed Him.
2. The rulers were desiring the death of Christ. While the disciples praised Christ with their hosannahs and hallelujahs, the Pharisees were, in truth, going about seeking how they might betray Him. Already they sought His death. Little did they know that they could have done nothing against Him, unless He Himself had yielded to their perfidy, and the Father willed His death.
VI. WEEPING AND WAILING OVER ISRAEL'S FATE (Luke 19:41-44 )
There is no one who doubts that Christ might not have overthrown every enemy with the word of His mouth. Other kings, when they saw the possibility of a Kingdom lying in their grasp, have ruthlessly slain every heir apparent to the throne, and everyone who might have proved an obstacle to their kingship, or a menace to their throne. Not so, did Christ.
1. Christ wept over Jerusalem. We read that when He was come near He beheld the city and wept over it. The city of Jerusalem was dear to the Master's heart. Christ taught that we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and that they would prosper who loved her. It was He, who with the pen of the Psalmist, wrote, "Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." Thus, also, did the Lord love Jerusalem. He sought her good and wept when He saw her coming sorrows.
2. Christ prophesied Jerusalem's fall. He said, "The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee around, and keep thee on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee."
All of this was to come upon Israel, because she knew not: the day of the Lord's visitation. These things came to pass when Titus destroyed Jerusalem.
VII. A PROPHETIC HOUSE-CLEANING (Luke 19:45-46 )
After Christ had. wept over Jerusalem and had prophesied her utter collapse, He went into the Temple and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought.
1. In this we see Christ's zeal for His Father's house. His Father's House was made for a House of prayer: but the Jews had turned it into a den of thieves.
2. In this we see a manifestation of the cause of the Temple's final destruction it was because the people had forsaken the Lord their God, and had defiled His House with their abominations.
Ezekiel had given a picture of all of this (see chapter 8), when he wrote of the abominations that were done in Jerusalem, and of how the Temple itself was given over to wickedness. Then it was that the glory of the Lord left the Temple, and the angel with a slaughter weapon in his hand went forth to slay utterly.
3. In this we see Israel's future cleansing. As Christ cleansed the Temple in that day, so also will He cleanse it when He comes again. He will do this for His Holy Name's sake. In the place where there has been shame, there shall be glory. In the place where wickedness has prevailed, righteousness will reign. The Lord God will give a new heart unto His people and put a new Spirit within them.
"Gerhardt, a German shepherd boy. was one day watching his master's flock of sheep in a valley near the edge of a forest. Through the woods there came a hunter, who asked him, 'How far is it to the next village?' 'Six miles, sir,' said Gerhardt, 'but there is no road there is only a sheep track.' The hunter looked at the narrow crooked path, and said, 'Will you leave your sheep long enough to show me the way to the village? I am tired, and hungry, and thirsty. I have lost my guide in the way. I will pay you for your trouble.' The shepherd boy replied, 'I cannot leave my sheep, sir. They would stray into the forest, where they would be eaten by wolves or stolen by robbers.' The hunter said. "Well, what of that? They are not your sheep. Even if a few of them were lost or stolen, your master would not know it, and I will give you as much as you would earn in a year taking care of sheep.' 'I cannot,' replied Gerhardt. 'My master pays me for my time, and he trusts me with his sheep; and if I give you my time, and lose some of my master's sheep, then it will be the same thing as if I had stolen the sheep.' 'Well,' said the hunter, 'will you leave your sheep with me; I will watch them, and you go to the village and find me a guide?' The boy shook his head, saying, 'The sheep do not know your voice, and besides you have tried to make me play false, and how do I know that you will not play false with my sheep?' This time the hunter laughed and said, 'I can see, my lad, that you are a good faithful boy. I will never forget you. Show me the way and I will try to follow it myself.' Gerhardt opened his dinner pail and offered his lunch, poor as it was, to the huntsman. The huntsman ate it, and then started on his way to the village. A few days later, Gerhardt learned that the huntsman was none other than the grand duke who owned all the land round about, as well as the sheep which he was tending. The duke was so pleased with the boy's faithfulness that he gave him a nice home and sent him to college.
"Faithfulness is a beautiful thing to possess. The duke remembered and rewarded the shepherd boy's faithfulness. God will remember and reward your faithfulness. Even in the ways of difficulties, when things are hard, remember the verse, 'Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.'"
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Luke 19". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany