A Life Transformed

Luke 19.1

The narrative of Zacchaeus, a loathed tax-chief at Jericho, and how a germ of curiosity and inner need led him to an encounter with the Saviour that changed his entire nature and disposition. Here are the features and the effects of conversion to Christ.

Sermon details

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 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 sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 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. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

So often people just do not seem to know that Christianity is about a transformation of life – a tremendous and a profound change that comes about, a certain encounter with a living God, an encounter with Christ who changes your mind, your whole mental outlook. It changes your heart, your affections, your will (your volitional power to act) – it changes you entirely. What I propose to do is to make a brief examination of the case of this man Zacchaeus, who appears only in Luke chapter 19, a man who bore a Jewish name meaning (of all things) transparent and pure.

That was his name; that wasn’t his life. He was a tax collector, and is described as ‘chief among the tax collectors’. Now that doesn’t mean to say that he worked for the Roman Empire (the occupying power of the land); they outsourced the tax collection, and there were auctions in those ancient times by the authorities for the collection of taxes, and wealthy people would buy a kind of franchise or license for an entire region, and they would collect the taxes and claim a margin, and forward what they thought was right and proper to the Roman authorities. So Zacchaeus would have been conspicuously wealthy and rich to be described as a chief tax collector or ‘publican’ in our King James version.

Clearly he was the owner of a license. How large? It was certain it would have been Jericho and probably a much larger area. He would have had many sub-licensees working for him, but he was the chief among them, and such a man (though we’re not given the details) I think it’s fair to assume that his God was money. 

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