OceanSide church of Christ
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CURIOSITY SAVED THE PUBLICAN
Victor M. Eskew
A. During His earthly ministry Jesus came into contact with many interesting individuals.
1. Prominent religious leaders
2. Rulers of nations
3. The poor and lowly
4. The sick and diseased
B. All that met Jesus had a story to tell after interacting with him.
C. This is true about the one who met Jesus about whom we will study today.
D. The account is found in Luke 19:1-10. We have entitled our lesson: “Curiosity Saved the Publican.”
I. THE CITY OF JERICHO (Luke 19:1)
And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
A. The Run-down:
1. Jericho is one of the oldest cities on the earth.
2. Jericho is the lowest city on the earth (850 feet below sea level).
3. In Jesus’ day, there were two Jerichos.
a. The ancient city that was in ruins.
b. A new Jericho built south of the old city.
4. Jericho was in the territory of Benjamin. It was located 5 miles west of the Jordan River and 15 miles east of Jerusalem as the bird flies.
5. Jericho means “place of fragrance.” It was known for its balsam, cypress, roses, and other items with much aroma.
B. The References:
1. Israel captured Jericho (Josh. 6:1-21)
2. Elisha purified a spring (II Kings 2:15-22)
3. Zacchaeus met Jesus (Luke 19:1-10)
4. Jesus healed Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52)
5. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
II. THE CHIEF OF THE PUBLICANS (Luke 19:2)
And, behold, there was a man name Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
A. His Reference: Zacchaeus
1. The name Zacchaeus is a Hebrew name indicating that this man was a Jew.
2. His name means “pure” (Strong) or “the just” (Vincent).
B. His Rank: chief among the publicans
1. The Greek word for his position is found only here in the New Testament.
2. It indicates that he was an overseer of other publicans.
3. Jews often sought the position of a publican because it was very lucrative.
4. However, the Jewish population frowned on these individuals.
a. The saw them at traitors of Israel.
b. The viewed them as evil because they often committed extortion.
c. They were often classified among the sinners (Matt. 9:10-11).
C. His riches: and he was rich
1. The pay of a publican was higher than most occupations.
2. Often they took a percentage of the revenues they collected for Rome. The higher the percentage, the more revenues in their pockets.
3. There was no such thing as “a poor publican.”
III. THE CURIOSITY OF ZACCHAEUS (Luke 19:3-4)
And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him; for he was to pass that way.
A. His Resolve: he sought to see Jesus who he was
1. Names without faces drive us crazy.
2. Jesus had made a name for Himself throughout all of Palestine. Some had seen Him; others had not.
3. Zacchaeus just wanted to put a name to a face. His curiosity was peaked when he heard Jesus was in his city.
B. His Restriction: and he could not
1. The horde: and could not for the press
a. There was a multitude of other individuals who desired to see Jesus as well.
b. They, too, were just as curios as the publican.
2. His height: because he was little of stature
a. Not everyone is blessed with being tall.
b. Zacchaeus was a wee little man.
c. He just could not see over the taller ones in the crowd. (e.g., a movie theater and a tall person sits in front of you)
C. His Resolution: he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him
1. Zacchaeus was not going to be deterred.
2. He ran ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree.
a. This required some effort on Zacchaeus’ part.
b. The sycamore tree
1) Some refer to it as the fig-mulberry, having fruit like figs and leaves like the mulberry.
2) It was the food only for the poorer class.
3) His being above the crowd would make him easier to be seen instead of just blending in with the crowd.
4) NOTE: There are times when our limitations can be a blessings
IV. THE CALL OF JESUS (Luke 19:5-6)
A. The Request (Luke 19:5)
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
1. Zacchaeus was expecting just to catch a glimpse of Jesus. He was not expecting an invitation to be with the Christ.
2. LESSON: Putting ourselves at the right place at the right time can bring blessings into our lives.
B. The Reception (Luke 19:6)
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
1. This was more than Zacchaeus had anticipated.
2. It was not an offer that he turned down. No, he “made haste” and “received him joyfully.”
a. There were no excuses.
b. There was a good attitude.
3. LESSON: When Jesus calls us, we should immediately be ready to accept Him into our lives.
V. THE COMPLAINT OF THE PEOPLE (Luke 19:7)
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying. That he was gone to be the guest with a man that is a sinner.
A. The view of the people toward publican is evident in this verse. They referred to Zacchaeus as “a sinner.”
B. Sadly, the people did not understand Jesus’s mission.
1. He was here for the very purpose of forgiving sinners (Matt. 9:12).
But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
2. Because they did not understand who Jesus was and why He was here, “they all murmured.”
a. Strong (1234): to complain throughout a crowd
b. Thayer: always used of many indignantly complaining
c. In essence, they were expressing strong displeasure with Jesus’ actions.
d. LESSON: Our good can be evil spoke of by others. Their strong displeasure, however, should not keep us from doing the will of God.
VI. THE CHANGE IN HEART (Luke 19:8)
And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; 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.
A. His Reaction
1. When Jesus went into homes, He did so with a purpose.
2. There was teaching that Jesus proclaimed while He visited Zacchaeus.
3. At some point, Zacchaeus stood up, not to proclaim his righteousness, but to manifest his repentance.
B. His Repentance
a. Relief: the half of my goods I give to the poor
1) God has always had a heart for the poor.
2) The riches of Zacchaeus can be determined by the fact he was willing to give half of his goods to the poor.
b. Restoration: I restore him fourfold
1) Extortion was not uncommon among the publicans.
2) The Law of Moses demanded that restitution be made anywhere between twofold and sevenfold in number (Exo. 22:1; Lev. 6:4; Num. 5:7; Prov. 6:30-31).
c. LESSON: Here, we see an example of what it means to truly repent. There is a change of heart in the life of an individual that leads to a change of action.
VII. THE CONCESSION OF THE SAVIOR (Luke 19:9-10)
A. Jesus’ Recognition (Luke 19:9)
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
1. Zacchaeus’ actions brought him salvation.
2. He was no longer a loathsome sinner. Now he was truly “a son of Abraham.” It was faith, like the faith of Abraham, that caused this publican to repent of his sins.
3. LESSON: There is no greater blessing than for salvation to come to a home.
B. Jesus’ Responsibility (Luke 19:10)
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
1. What happened in this home involves Jesus mission. He came to seek and to save the lost.
2. The man who thought he was seeking Jesus was really being sought by the Savior.
3. LESSON: If you are lost, Jesus us seeking you.
A. This story is composed of so many features.
1. A popular man entering into a city and thronged by the masses.
2. A curious tax-collector who longed to get a glimpse of Jesus and climbed a tree to see Him.
3. A “chance” meeting of Jesus and Zacchaeus that turned into a home visit.
4. The displeasure of the crowds due to something they did not understand or appreciate.
5. A soul that was saved by an individual on a mission to save the lost.
B. This is a story known by children due to the VBS song entitled: “Zacchaeus Was A Wee Little Man.”
C. It, however, is vital for all sinners who need to understand the meaning of repentance in coming to Jesus.
D. It is inspirational in that it reveals to us that Jesus is seeking those who are seeking Him (See James 4:8-10).
Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.