Volume. XXVI, No. 22
Sunday, 27 November 2011


Zacchaeus: Marks of True Conversion


Zacchaeus is, perhaps, one of the most popular Bible characters for Sunday school children. Most Sunday school teachers would have probably taught their students about Zacchaeus. However, Zacchaeus was never a popular figure during the Bible times, at least not before his conversion. What made the story Zacchaeus so popular? This has to do with his conversion testimony and his wonderful transformation from a selfish and dishonest tax collector into a selfless and honest disciple of Jesus Christ. Above all, Zacchaeus’ new life in Christ was marked by evangelical repentance, joy, placability, generosity, integrity and teachability. This is because a born-again Christian lives with a new set of conduct because the Spirit of God has renewed him, enabled him and empowered him to manifest and cultivate various Christian virtues. Nonetheless, it is the responsibility of Christians to cultivate these Christian virtues with the divine assistance of the Holy Spirit in his daily walk. Let us examine some of the marks of true conversion based on the nineteenth chapter of Luke where we find the story of Zacchaeus.    
 
Genuine Conversion Produces a Renewed Heart

It produces evangelical repentance (vv.1-2)

Luke 19:1 says, “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.” Back in the Old Testament, we were told that the city of Jericho was a city under the curse of God (Joshua 6:26). However, our Lord Jesus entered and passed through this city even though it was under the curse. Not only that, He even died a cursed death on the cross at Calvary to redeem His people from sin! Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” What a great Love that God has manifested unto His people through His death at Calvary that the Lord of glory was willing to enter into a cursed gate and die for His people on a cursed tree!

And verse 2 says, “And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.” This verse brings Zacchaeus into the scene and it also tells us who Zacchaeus was. The fact that he was chief of the publicans tells us that he was very wealth! The publicans or the tax collectors in those days were notorious for overcharging the people. In those days, if Rome for example, levied a 10% tax, the tax collectors could charge 15% or 25% or whatever they wished. As a result the publicans were guilty of gross extortion of the people. They were viewed as the worst of sinners along with adulterers, fornicators and harlots. In fact Luke tells us, “the scribes and Pharisees murmur to Jesus’ disciples and said, ‘Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?’” (Luke 5:30) Clearly publicans were identified amongst the worst of sinners and were hated even by his people. Yet, we see that the Spirit of God must have renewed his heart and enabled him to have begun a deep soul searching (Titus 3:5). As a result, Zacchaeus realized his spiritual state, a wretched sinner, before he came to seek to the Lord in humility and with a contrite heart. Zacchaeus knew that he cheated and extorted his own people and he was penitent of his sins!

It was also marked by genuine humility (vv.3,4)

Luke 19:3,4 says, “3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”

As mentioned, Zacchaeus was able to seek Jesus because the Holy Spirit had already worked in the heart of Zacchaeus causing him to seek Jesus, but there is one technical problem—Zacchaeus was too short.  Verse 3 tells us “[he] could not for the press, because he was little of stature.” Because of his short stature, he was unable to see the road for the crowds that  gathered to see Jesus as He passed by. Not to be deterred, Zacchaeus finds a tree, sycamore tree as we are told in verse 4, and climbs up into it to see who this Jesus is. Verse 4 says, “And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.” It is not hard to imagine that many people in the streets who hated him would have ridiculed him and even discouraged him and said to him harshly, “Don’t waste your time, Jesus would not be interested to talk to you”. Yet, Zacchaeus must have humbled himself and waited patiently on the sycamore tree and replied to not a word of their mockery.

By the way, what got Zacchaeus so interested in seeing Jesus? There is little doubt that he must have heard how an old blind man named Bartimaeus had been healed earlier that very day (Luke 18:35-43). It is also likely that Zacchaeus knew how Jesus had healed sick folks, cast out demons, raised the dead. Yet above all, Zacchaeus knew that Jesus was able to forgive sin of a paralysed man (Luke 5:20) and of a sinful woman (Luke 7:48)! So, when he heard about what Jesus had done for others, it may have stirred his heart and he must have thought to himself: “I believe Jesus is able to forgive my sins too, and I’ve got to see Him for myself.” He knew that in spite of the power, position and prosperity he had, he was a miserable and lonely man who knew something very important was missing from his life. The Spirit of God must have been working ahead in the heart of this little lost man. And he was enabled to come to the Lord humbly as he was, a sinful human being, laying down all the pride that he had just like the way Lydia’s heart was opened to receive the gospel (Acts 16:14).

It was marked by joy (v.5,6)

Luke 19:5,6 says, “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. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”

As Jesus passed the place where Zacchaeus was up in that tree, Jesus stopped and began to speak to Zacchaeus—our Lord issued a call to this little man! Verse 5 says, “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.” Indeed, this call of Jesus would result in an eternal change of life for this tax collector, and it gave him unspeakable joy he had never experienced in his life! Though the Scripture is silent, it is not hard to imagine that Zacchaeus must have said something like  this when Jesus called his name: “Me, you mean, me, the one on the tree?!” He must have almost fallen off the tree when he heard Jesus call his name! It is also very likely that few people called Zacchaeus by name because the name Zacchaeus which derived from the Hebrew word “Zakkai” means “Pure”. Instead of calling him “pure,” most people probably had some nasty and sarcastic little tags for him like: “that whinny little man” or “that Roman tax dog.” But when Jesus saw him, not as he was, but as penitent and humbled person who came to him to seek His grace—the words of Jesus must have given unspeakable joy to Zacchaeus! (Luke 19:.6)

According to God’s revealed word, by nature no man is able to receive Jesus with joy. (Romans 3:11) A natural man hates God. Man hates God because His law condemns his sins. (John 3:19) But what we see in Luke 19 is a man renewed by the Spirit of God who was enabled to receive the Lord joyfully. At some point of time Zacchaeus was a new man because the Spirit of God had enabled Him to receive our Lord joyfully. Zacchaeus was joyful because he knew that he was a sinner and he also knew that only Jesus could forgive his sin and has forgiven his sins. So, Jesus did not have to ask, “Zaccky, do you believe that I can forgive sin?” No, Jesus knew the hearts of man because He is God Himself who is omniscient. We are told in Luke 6:8 that Jesus knew the thoughts of man, including the hypocritical and self-righteous Pharisees of his days. And, if Zacchaeus were as hypocritical as many of the Pharisees in his days, Jesus could have called him, “Thou hypocrite! Get down the tree and repent of your sin!” But Jesus knew that Zacchaeus had faith in Him and believed that He could forgive his sins and his sins were forgiven!

To be continued…

Ps Weng

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Announcements
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*Volunteers needed for dishwashing & kitchen duties after fellowship lunch.
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Praise and Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Bros Yick Ho Lam (S’pore), Raphael Ng (Pt Aug/Adl), & Pirun Pech (Cambodia); Sisters Michelle Jap (Indonesia); Melissa Chong, Kimberley Gan, Megan Lim, Gillian Ong & Felicia Tan (S’pore); Lydia Fan (Melb) & Wendy Liang (Canada); & others who have arrived at their destinations. 
Church activities - over the past week.
Working Bees - yesterday despite the weather.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s protection & guidance - those who distributed Christmas Concert invitation cards in suburbs.

Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev Luke Kim (Post-cardiac surgery, S Korea); Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser;  Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Bro Elton Law; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Margaret Hooper, Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Myung Ki, Irena Kurek-Braden (NSW), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), & Susan Varadi; Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); Mr Tony Wong (Bro John’s father); Mrs. Chuilin Yap (Malacca); & others in affliction. 
Cambodia Missions -  Rev Luke Kim & ministry (Phnom Penh & Veal Renh); Bro Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh)
Ministry in New Life BPC (London): Ps & Sis Ki.
Batam Missions - Next year’s missions trip - 4-7 Jan 2012. Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.
iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry - Pr HS Lim (Melb).
IBPFM (USA) - Rev Keith Coleman & Board.
Ps & Sis Weng - Ministry in Hope BPC.
Presbyterian Missionary Union - Missionaries.
Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
House of Hope, Cebu, Philippines - drug addicts: for their salvation & healing from drug addiction.
Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe (Adl); Sis Myung Ki & Bro Daniel Ki (Lond); Bros Raphael Ng (S’pore) & Yick Ho Lam (Adl); Sisters Lydia Fan (Adl), Katrina Loh (S’pore) & Gillian Ong (Laos); & others who are travelling.
God’s comfort: Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser  & others in mourning.
Logos International School (Phnom Penh) - Bro Peter Koo.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin & Korean.
Christmas Concert - Speaker: Rev Edward Paauwe; organisers, participants & preparation; good & cool weather.
Sisters Clara Sim & Melissa Wong - God’s guidance, job & direction in S’pore or elsewhere.
High school, Year 12 & Uni students - studying for final exams.
Believers in Thailand affected by the ‘catastrophic’ floods. Sis Mariam Atijatuporn & her family.
Job - Bro Raymond Ang & our uni graduates looking for jobs.
Wisdom - Australian Federal & State authorities.
 Sis Gillian Ong - missions work in Laos (Dec 2011).
 Pastors & their families under persecution in Islamic countries.
 Unity & fellowship of Australian B-P Churches.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063