From Heaven With Love


Chapter 61—The Little Man Who Became Important

This chapter is based on Luke 19:1-10.

The city of Jericho lay in the midst of tropic verdure and luxuriance. Watered by living springs, it gleamed like an emerald in the setting of limestone hills and desolate ravines. The city was a great center of traffic, and Roman officials and soldiers, with strangers from different quarters, were found there, while the collection of customs made it the home of many publicans. HLv 367.1

The “chief tax collector,” Zacchaeus, was a Jew, and detested by his countrymen. His rank and wealth were the reward of a calling which they regarded as another name for injustice and extortion. Yet the wealthy customs officer was not altogether the hardened man that he seemed. Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus. The report of His kindness and courtesy toward the proscribed classes had spread far and wide. John the Baptist had preached at the Jordan, and Zacchaeus had heard of the call to repentance. Now, hearing the words reported to have come from the Great Teacher, he felt that he was a sinner in the sight of God. Yet what he had heard of Jesus kindled hope in his heart. Repentance, reformation of life, was possible, even to him. Was not one of the new Teacher's most trusted disciples a publican? Zacchaeus began at once to follow the conviction that had taken hold upon him and to make restitution to those whom he had wronged. HLv 367.2

When the news sounded through Jericho that Jesus was entering the town, Zacchaeus determined to see Him. The tax collector longed to look on the face of Him whose words had brought hope to his heart. HLv 367.3

The streets were crowded, and Zacchaeus, who was small, could see nothing over the heads of the people. So, running a little in advance of the multitude to a wide-branching fig tree, he climbed to a seat among the boughs. As the procession passed below, Zacchaeus scanned with eager eyes to discern the one figure he longed to see. HLv 368.1

Suddenly, just beneath the fig tree, the company came to a standstill, and One looked upward whose glance seemed to read the soul. Almost doubting his senses, the man in the tree heard the words, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” HLv 368.2

Zacchaeus, walking as in a dream, led the way toward his own home. But the rabbis, with scowling faces, murmured in scorn that “He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.” HLv 368.3

Zacchaeus had been overwhelmed at the condescension of Christ in stooping to him, so unworthy. Now love to his new-found Master unsealed his lips. He would make public his repentance. In the presence of the multitude, “Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” HLv 368.4

Now the disciples had a demonstration of the truth of Christ's words, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27. They saw how, through the grace of God, a rich man could enter into the kingdom. HLv 368.5

Before Zacchaeus had looked upon the face of Christ, he had confessed his sin. He had begun to carry out the teaching written for ancient Israel as well as for ourselves: “If your brother becomes poor, and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall maintain him; as a stranger and a sojourner he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or increase, but fear your God.” “You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God, for I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 25:35, 36, 17, RSV. The very first response of Zacchaeus to the love of Christ was to manifest compassion toward the poor and suffering. HLv 368.6

Among the publicans there was a confederacy so that they could oppress the people, and sustain one another in their fraudulent practices. But no sooner did Zacchaeus yield to the Holy Spirit than he cast aside every practice contrary to integrity. HLv 369.1

No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin. It is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God, entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven. HLv 369.2

The Christian in his business life is to represent to the world the manner in which our Lord would conduct business. In every transaction he is to make it manifest that God is his teacher. “Holiness unto the Lord” is to be written on ledgers, deeds, receipts, and bills of exchange. Every converted soul will signal the entrance of Christ into his heart by abandonment of unrighteous practices. Like Zacchaeus he will give proof of his sincerity by making restitution. “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity, he shall surely live.” Ezekiel 33:15. HLv 369.3

If we have injured others, overreached in trade, or defrauded any man, even though it be within the pale of the law, we should confess our wrong, and make restitution as far as lies in our power. It is right to restore not only that which we have taken, but all that it would have accumulated if put to a wise use during the time it has been in our possession. HLv 369.4

To Zacchaeus the Saviour said, “This day is salvation come to this house.” Christ went to his home to give him lessons of truth, and to instruct his household in the things of the kingdom. Shut out from the synagogues by the contempt of rabbis and worshipers, now they gathered in their own home about the divine Teacher and heard the words of life. HLv 369.5

When Christ is received as a personal Saviour, salvation comes to the soul. Zacchaeus had received Jesus, not merely as a passing guest, but as One to abide in the soul temple. The scribes and Pharisees accused him as a sinner, but the Lord recognized him as a son of Abraham. See Galatians 3:7, 29. HLv 370.1