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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luk 19:2-10 ESV)

 

A name can tell a lot about a person. Zacchaeus’ name means “pure” according to Strong’s and is the Greek form of the Hebrew, Zakkai. How befitting is his name after his encounter with Jesus. He was a “chief tax collector”, that is a “superintendent of customs and tribute,”[1] as well as a rich man, due, not only to the richness of the city[2], but also probably because of his unrighteous handling of the revenues.

 

Yet we instantly see a change in Zacchaeus. We see determination and excitement at the prospect of seeing this “prophet from Nazareth”[3], as he, “ran on ahead.” Due to his stature, he climbs a tree in order to see Jesus, which would have, due to etiquette and social status, been undignified.

 

Now whether Jesus and Zacchaeus had ever met before, Luke does not tell us, but I believe it is safe to assume they had not. So when Zacchaeus hears Jesus call out to him by name, he “[hurries] down and receives [Jesus] joyfully.” One wonders, at that moment, if Zacchaeus spoke in his heart the same words of Nathanael:

 

“Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Joh 1:49 ESV)

 

As we have already noted, there is no indication that Zacchaeus had ever met Jesus before now. Had he heard any of Jesus’ teaching? How much had he learned from others? Luke, who I believe is given to detail, does not tell us. However, he does tell us that:

 

Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”(Luk 19:8 ESV)

 

Why did Zacchaeus make such a statement? Being a “son of Abraham,” he would have known the Law and the Prophets, thus knowing that his riches were gained unrighteously and that restoration would have been required. He knew this beforehand, before his encounter with Jesus. Something was different now. Something was compelling him to do the right thing. Something had made joy to be found within him. It was the fact that he now stood in the presence of the Lamb of God. Jesus did not have to tell Zacchaeus what to do. He did not have to tell him how to feel. Zacchaeus did not respond with constrained obedience, but joyful obedience.

 

I hope you see the point. When we come to know our Saviour we should act towards him as we did/do with our new found love/spouse. They do not have to tell us to do things to show our love, we naturally just do them because we love them. We should feel the same way about obedience.

 

Jesus told Zacchaeus “I must stay at your house,” and Zacchaeus responded not only joyfully, but obediently. Jesus tells us:

 

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (Joh 14:23 ESV)

 

Jesus is saying to us “I must stay at your house today.” Will you “receive him joyfully?” And because of His presence, not constraint, relish His glory and holiness, and be obedient?


[1] Fausset

[2] “The palm groves of Jericho and its balsam gardens (now no longer existing) were so valuable that Antony gave them as a source of revenue to Cleopatra, and Herod the Great redeemed them for his benefit.” Fausset

[3] Matthew 21:11

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Repentance and Joy

Oh, the wonders and joys of parenting! The lessons that the Father teaches us through our children. The examples of His love towards us and responses we should have towards Him are enumerable. We learn about grace, in that we love our children and show them “favor” even when that “favor” is not merited. Yet, at the same time we learn why He disciplines us, and why we need it. He teaches us about His patience and long-suffering, His kindness and compassion. We experience the pain, in a small way, that He feels when we are ill, both physically and spiritually, and the all encompassing urge to do whatever it takes to remedy the illness.

We also learn about repentance and the joy that it brings. The other day, which in my mind can stretch from yesterday to a year ago, Isaac and I were playing, and he did something that he already knew was wrong. Now, it wasn’t anything that deserved strict discipline, but I would have had to of talked to him about what he did wrong. Yet, instantly, he said he was sorry and grabbed my neck. Now it wasn’t out of fear, because I believe he knew that all I was going to do was say, “That’s not nice, we don’t do that.” However, he knew what he did wrong and immediately tried to remedy the situation. You know what kind of joy that brought to me. You know how I did not hold back any love or compassion.

We act, respond, and think so differently when it comes to our heavenly Father, don’t we? We act like our ancestors, Adam and Eve, and hide. We tend to run from Him. Sometimes it is out of shame, sometimes out of fear, and sometimes both. We understand that He is El Elyon[1], El Shaddai[2], YHWH Ts’vaot[3]. Yet, we forget that He is also, Abba[4].

He is our Father and as such has feelings towards us as earthly fathers have towards their children.

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,…” (Exo 34:6b-7a ESV)

“with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” (Isa 54:8b ESV)

Why do we feel this way? Do we not know His character and love?

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16 HCSB)

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1 ESV)

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1Jn 4:18 ESV)

He calls us to repent and return to Him.[5] He is the Father of the prodigal, who looking and waiting, runs to embrace the repentant.[6]

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luk 15:10 ESV)

I emphasize “before”, because the Saviour is telling us that the Father has joy before the angels over your repentance. We are told that we are to be as children. Will you be as one today, and run to your Father’s waiting arms?


[1] God Most High

[2] God Almighty

[3] LORD of Hosts

[4] Vine’s “Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants” cf. Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6

[5] cf. Acts 3:19, 17:30, James 4:18-20, 1John 1:9

[6] Luke 15:11-32

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Three Crosses

The accounts of the crucifixion tell us that on “the place called Golgotha” there were placed three crosses. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, give us little information about two of the three who were to be crucified on these three crosses.

Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left…And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. (Mat 27:38, 44 ESV)

And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. (Mar 15:27 ESV)

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. (Joh 19:18 ESV)

Luke’s gospel, on the other hand, gives us a little more detail.

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left…One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luk 23:32-33, 39-42 ESV)

I wonder about these two men. We know that they are robbers, but is thievery punished by crucifixion? Some commentators suggest that they committed murder in their act of thievery. Some also suggest that they belong to Barabbas, whom Pilate had released. Yet, it is their attitudes towards the Saviour that causes me to have questions about their lives. Was the one who “railed” at Him a thief at heart, and would have been such regardless of the circumstances? Was the other a thief because of circumstances, stealing out of hunger or for someone else? It doesn’t excuse the sin, but due to the nature of his heart as he hung on his cross, it does make me wonder.

The real dilemma I have, though, is which thief am I? Most people want to talk about their rights, the status and possessions that they deserve, and what is owed to them. They “rail” against the Master, either directly or by extension in the way they treat others. They are right in saying they have rights and that something is owed them. They, you and I deserve to be on that cross between two thieves.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom 3:23 ESV)

For the wages of sin is death, (Rom 6:23 ESV)

Do we not realize that the fact that we are even alive is a gift of His grace? From the moment we first sinned, we have fallen under the penalty of death and do not even deserve the very breath that He gives us.

The one thief rebuked the other, saying,

we are receiving the due reward of our deeds

Which thief am I? Which thief are you? Will you rail against Him? Or will He remember you? The choice is yours. Believe in Him and obey, and if you were to pass from this life today, He could say the same to you that He did to the thief,

Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.

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