Zacchaeus Come Down
July 27th, 1969 @ 7:30 PM
ZACCHAEUS, COME DOWN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-27-69 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message. It is entitled Zacchaeus, Come Down, and it is a message especially and particularly addressed to our youngsters. Now when I came down to Vacation Bible School, I heard them singing a song about Zacchaeus. And I thought before we read the Scripture about him, that we might listen to that song so the Word of God would mean more to us. Now Perry Taylor—our song leader tonight—let’s have somebody sing that song that I heard them sing, “Zacchaeus, Come Down Out of That Thar’ Tree.”
Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in the sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see;
And as the Savior passed that way, He looked up in the tree,
And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down,
For I’m going to your house today, for I’m going to your house today!”
Now all the boys and girls here tonight in Vacation Bible School, you stand up. We’re all going to sing that. Every boy and girl here tonight in Vacation Bible School, that’s one song that we really learned. All right Perry, with the choir, now lead us in singing “Zacchaeus, Come Down Out of That Thar’ Tree.” All right:
Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in the sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see;
And as the Savior passed that way, He looked up in the tree,
And He said, Zacchaeus, you come down,
For I’m going to your house today, for I’m going to your house today!
Wonderful! Thank you. Now turn in the Bible to Luke chapter 10, I mean Luke chapter 19 and the first ten verses. Luke chapter 19 and the first ten verses. And we’re going to read it out loud together; Luke chapter 19, the first ten verses. Now all of us, and you on the radio, get your Bible and read it out loud with us; the first ten verses of Luke 19. Now together:
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 sycamore 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 today I must abide in thy house.
And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
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.
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
That’s the story of Zacchaeus. And there’s not a boy, there’s not a girl in Vacation Bible School that does not know it.
Jericho is down there in the Jordan Valley, and Jerusalem is up in the mountains. And the Lord was making His way in the last journey to Jerusalem. So He entered and passed through Jericho. And when it was known that the Lord was going through the city, the people poured out into the streets by the thousands. They wanted to see Jesus just as we would today. If the Lord were to come to Dallas today, there’s not a citizen in this city but that would try to see Him. All of us would.
Well, Jericho was the same way. Jesus was going to pass through the city on His way up to the capital, to Jerusalem, and all the people poured out, to look upon the blessed Lord Jesus. Well, in that city there was a little fellow. He was small of stature. But not only was he small in stature, but he was small, he was smaller in the eyes of the people who lived in that city, for he was a hated and despised publican. And when he sought to see the Lord Jesus the crowd shut him out. They not only shut him out because he was small, he couldn’t see over their heads, but they shut him out also because they hated him, and they despised him.
Now they hated him for two reasons. First, he was a despised tax collector. Now they raised taxes in that day in a different way from what we do now. Right now a tax equalization board will judge according to what a man ought to pay on his property, or he’ll pay according to his income if it’s an income tax of the federal government. But in that day, the Roman government farmed out taxes to the highest bidder.
Now the Roman government would say, “In this district of Jericho and all of the surrounding Jordan Valley, who will raise the taxes in this part of the Roman Empire, the province of Judea? Who will raise the taxes here?” And one man spoke up and say, “I’ll raise so much if you’ll give it to me.” And another man say, “I’ll raise so much if you give it to me.” And another man said, “I’ll raise so much if you give it to me.” And it was a public auction.
Consequently, the man who would say to the Roman government, “I will raise the most taxes,” that is the man to whom the Roman government awarded the contract. Now when the man who got the contract raised the taxes, there was a certain amount that he had promised to give to the Roman government, but everything above that he got for himself, he kept for himself. Consequently, the tax collector was a man who extorted all that he could out of the people. And he used the fraud, and he used dishonest ways, and he used every coercion method that he could think of, in order to get all the money he could out of the people. That’s one reason that they hated him.
All right, another reason was because he was a Jew. Zacchaeus was a Jew. And for a Jew to accept the job like that was to be doubly despised, and doubly despicable in the eyes and in the minds of the people of the country, his fellow Judeans. Oh! Every time a Jew paid taxes to the Roman government, every time he held in his hand one of those coins with the superscription and image of Caesar on it, it just reminded him that he was a slave to the Roman government, that his country was occupied and governed by an outside authority. And for a Jew to take that assignment from the government, and to extort money from his brothers, and to give it to a heathen power like Roman was an infuriating thing. It reminded them of the galling yoke that they bore before the Roman tyranny. So Zacchaeus was a despised man.
Well, did Jesus despise him? That’s why the story is told. For you see, though he was a tax collector, in Jesus’ sight he didn’t have to be fraudulent, and he didn’t have to be dishonest, and he didn’t have to be coercive, even though he was a tax collector. There was a disciple who was a tax collector. Remember his name? It was Matthew [Matthew 9:9]. And the Lord chose him because he was in the habit of keeping records. And when Matthew followed the Lord Jesus around he made notes; and all of those early manuscripts refer to Matthew’s logia, Matthew’s notes. And out of those notes the Gospel of Matthew was written.
Jesus knew that the man didn’t have to be vile, or dishonest, or coercive. Jesus knew what was on the inside of that man and the wonderful possibilities in his heart. Just like He knows you [John 10:3], every one of you, He called you by your name. He even knows, He knows everything about you, the Lord Jesus does and He loves you. Well, He did Zacchaeus.
So when the Lord came by and that crowd shut out Zacchaeus that he couldn’t see, not only because he was small in stature but because they hated him, and they shoved him out; why, Zacchaeus went ahead––for he knew Jesus would be going down the road through Jericho––he went ahead of that big crowd, and he climbed high up in a sycamore tree in order that he might see Jesus, for He was to pass that way [Luke 19:4]. And when Jesus came with that crowd thronging Him on every side, He stopped and He looked up, and He saw Zacchaeus in the top of that tree [Luke 19:5].
He knows his name. Didn’t you read that in the Book? How did the Lord know his name? He knows all of us. He knows your name [John 10:3]. He knows where you live. He knows your mommy and daddy. He knows your house and home. And He knows all about you. Just like He knew Zacchaeus, and He knew he was up there in that tree [Luke 19:5]. And He knew of the hunger, and the spiritual thirst, and wanting in the heart of that little man up there, atop that tree.
So when He stopped, He looked up there and He saw Zacchaeus, and He said, “Zacchaeus! Zacchaeus! You, Zacchaeus! Come down. Come down out of that tree. Come down, because I am going to your house today” [Luke 19:5]. Think of that. “I am going to your house today. I am going to eat dinner at your house” [Luke 19:5]. Why, bless you, that’s a prerogative of any preacher, to go home with anybody for dinner. Just tell them, yeah, I’ve done it a thousand times a thousand times, “I’m going home with you for dinner.”
“Yeah, but we’re not prepared for you,” they would say to me. Why, I’d say, “You don’t have to prepare for me. I’ll just go eat whatever you have.”
“Well we don’t have anything to eat.”
“Well then we’ll just share nothing together. I’m going home with you.” Oh yeah, yeah, that’s a good preacher that’ll do that. Jesus did that, “I am going home with you today, going to eat dinner with you” [Luke 19:5]. And He went home with Zacchaeus, and He ate dinner with him. And let me tell you, whenever Jesus comes in that door, under that roof, ah, things change. Jesus blesses every house, every home, every heart, every little boy and girl, every daddy and mommy. Jesus blesses when He comes in the door. And Zacchaeus stood, why that little fellow was ten feet tall when he stood in the presence of the Lord, and he said, “Lord, I’ve been an extortionist. I’ve been coercive. I’ve done all I could to choke out of these people every bit of tax money that is possible. But Lord, I’ve changed since You have come. I’m a different man since You have come. And Lord, I’ve decided that half of everything I have I’m going to give to the work of God. I’m going to help feed the poor. I’m going to help send them the gospel. Half of everything I have, not a tenth, not even two-tenths, but five-tenths, half, Lord, of everything I have I’m giving to Thee [Luke 19:8]. Not only that, Lord, but if I find from now on that I have wronged any man, I’m going to him, I’m going to tell him I’ve wronged him. I’m going to ask his forgiveness, and I’m going to restore it fourfold. I’m going to pay him back four times as much as I took away from him [Luke 19:8]. Because Lord, I’m a new man since You have come into my house, and we’ve broken bread here together in our home” [Luke 19:8].
Isn’t that a glorious thing? Jesus blesses any house, any heart, any home into which He enters. He does.
Last Sunday, right down there in the midst of the two weeks of our Vacation Bible School, there was a woman who came up to me and she shook my hand. She said, “I want to tell you something that you don’t know. It happened last year in your Vacation Bible School.” She said, “There was a mother who came to Dallas from Beaumont. And she had a little boy, and she brought that little boy to Vacation Bible School. And you held the service, as you do every year, for these children. And you give them an opportunity to take Jesus as their Savior.”
And this year, Millie, we had the most marvelous soul-winning service I was ever in my life. It was just wonderful. There must have been seventy-five or a hundred children who responded. It was just glorious. God was here, here in this place where I’m preaching right now. It was marvelous. Your heart just overflowed with gladness.
She said, “Last year, you conducted that service.” And she said, “That little boy was saved. He came down the aisle and gave you his hand. And he took Jesus as his Savior.” And she said, “When they went back to Beaumont that little lad got sick and he died.”
You don’t ever know, do you? The little fellow got sick and he died. And the lady said to me, “Pastor, you cannot know the comfort to which that mother clings in that that little boy came down the aisle and gave his heart to Jesus in that Vacation Bible School.” She said, “That’s all the hope that she has and she clings to it in the love and promise of God.” That’s the Lord Jesus. He blesses every house, and every heart, and every home into which you’ll invite Him to enter.
The Revelation has in it one of the sweetest verses in the Book: “Behold,” Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock: if any one hear My voice, and open the door,” the door of his heart, the door of his house, the door of his home, “I will come in, and sup with him”; He will be your dinner guest, “and we will break bread together” [Revelation 3:20]; the preciousness of our blessed Lord.
We’re going to sing our song now, and while we sing it, a family you to open your door, your house, your home to the Lord Jesus, would you come and stand by me? A couple you; a family you, “Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children and all of us are coming tonight,” or just one somebody you. While we sing this hymn of appeal, in the balcony round, on this lower floor, down to the front, “Here I am, pastor. I’m coming tonight.” Make the decision now, right where you’re sitting. Make the decision now, and in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming; angels will attend you in the way if you will, while we stand and while we sing.
I. Jesus passing through Jericho
A. Despised man shut
out by the crowd – Zacchaeus
1. Small in
2. Hated and
a. Tax collector
b. A Jew extorting
money from his brothers
II. Jesus did not despise him
A. Jesus saw a man who
B. Jesus called his
C. Jesus went to his
house to dine with him
A. Conversion of
1. Giving back
half and restitution fourfold
B. The blessing of
Jesus to any home He enters
1. Little boy
saved at VBS; passed away
C. He knocks at our door (Revelation 3:20)