The Character of Zaccheus
Luke 19:1-10
And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.…


1. His nationality. A Jew.

2. His official position. Chief among the publicans.

3. His financial condition. Rich. As is too often the case, Zaccheus, perhaps, owed his official position more to his purse than his purity — more to what he had than to what he was. From the view I get of Zaccheus, I am not surprised that "he was rich." Those who compass chieftancy and riches are the men who know how to step out of the beaten track, and without regard to sneers or criticism, can "run" and "climb," in order to accomplish their object.He possessed certain traits of character which are the secret of success in every department of human endeavour.

1. He was self-reliant. He did not passively rely upon others for his inspiration and resolves. He was a man of originality of thought and purpose — a sort of genius in method and movement.

2. He was prompt and persevering. Zaccheus knew how to handle an opportunity. An old Latin maxim says: "Opportunity has hair in front, but behind she is bald; if you seize her by the forelock, you may hold her but if suffered to escape, not Jupiter himself can catch her." By the style of the man, and the fact that his ancestry is not mentioned, I am inclined to think that Zaccheus began life a poor boy. The majority of those who have risen to riches and honour, have come up through the rough regions of toil and poverty, and were not ashamed afterwards to work with their own hands, though possessed of thousands of this world's goods.

3. His purpose. "To see Jesus, who He was." Why so anxious to "see"? why not be content with hearing? There were thousands who had seen Him and formed their opinions as to "who He was," and were not backward in telling them. The Pharisee would have told him: "He is a devil"; the scribe, "a fanatic"; the priest, "a blasphemer"; the Rabbi, "a heretic"; the poor, "a prophet"; the many, "an impostor"; the few, a "God." Zaccheus could not afford, therefore, to trust to hearsay; and so, like a wise man, he made up his mind to see for himself. He was a good judge of human nature, and could form a pretty correct opinion of a man, by getting a good square look at him. The noblest purpose that can actuate the human heart is expressed in these three little words: "To see Jesus."

4. His failure. "Could not for the press, because he was little." Here is a man earnestly trying "to see Jesus," who is opposed and defeated by obstacles he had no hand in producing, and over which he had no control.

(1) "The press," and(2) "Little of stature." He had no hand in producing either of these, and yet they defeated him. But, was that fair? Has Zaccheus had a fair chance? Whether fair or not, he has had all the chance he will have, unless he makes another.

5. His determination. "He ran before and climbed into a sycamore." Here we get an idea of the force and fibre of the man. He did not waste his precious time in upbraiding himself for being "little," or finding fault with his surroundings. He simply started off in search of a better vantage ground. No time is more unprofitably spent than that which is used in finding fault with our instruments and surroundings. Zaccheus never would have been "chief among the publicans, and rich," if he had not learned to make a virtue out of necessity, and turn even failure into a pedestal from which to reach a grander success. When a man's conscious littleness compels him to "run" and "climb," he will master his obstacles and get a better knowledge of things than the men who think they can see all there is to be seen without climbing. In a world like this, where we are all "little" in so many places, no man will reach the highest success unless he feels his littleness and knows how to "climb." Learn from this narrative that all barriers give way before the man who has made up his mind to see Jesus Christ.

(T. Kelly.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

WEB: He entered and was passing through Jericho.

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