Zaccheaus: Good Fruit

 

“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zaccheaus, 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, Zaccheaus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at 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 Zaccheaus stood, and said unto to 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, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost” – (Lk.19:1-10).

 

   The sycamore tree is a huge evergreen tree 40-50 feet high. The leaves are large and heart-shaped. The fruit is similar to the true fig but is inferior in quality. Into one of these trees little Zaccheaus climbed in order to see Jesus pass by. The tree was of high stature and Zaccheaus was “little of stature.” But that day he became a man of high stature in the sight of God because he got saved. Because the Lord Jesus looked upon his heart and not on his stature. “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” – (I Sam.16:7). It is much better in God’s sight, to have a big heart rather than a big body; a large heart like the large heart-shaped leaves of the sycamore tree.

 

   With Zaccheaus, Jesus teaches us to check the fruit of a person to determine what his true character and stature is: what he is inwardly, and what his true measure is. “Beware of false prophets, which come you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth froth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Whereby by their fruits ye shall know them” – (Mt.7:15-20). Men bear fruits which declare what they are in their hearts. Good fruit… evil fruit – there is no middle ground. A good tree will produce good fruit, and a corrupt, evil tree will produce evil fruit.

 

   You don’t eat figs of a thistle, only thorns and you don’t gather grapes of thorns. Jesus here is talking about people trees and teaching us that Zacchaeus was a good fruit, the kind God is looking for among the fruit of the womb. Jesus is showing us to check the fruit of people if you want to know his true inward character. It’s not just his talk, but also his walk that we must check; not just his doctrine but his way of life. The word ‘conversation’ in the Bible means both the walk and the talk.

 

   Zacchaeus went up the tree a thistle and came down a fig, like the fruit of the sycamore tree. He went up a sinner tree producing evil fruit and he came down a saved tree producing good fruit. You become a tree of eternal life, if you get saved by Christ on the tree-cross but a tree of eternal death in the lake of fire if you’re not saved and you will burn like wood in hell. Go to Christ on the tree-cross and get saved and become a new tree brining forth good, Holy Ghost fruit like Zacchaeus. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness…” – (Pet.2:24).

 

   Jesus was a gatherer of sycamore fruit like the prophet Amos (Amos 7:14) good Zacchaeus fruit – “the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life: and he that winneth souls is wise” – (Pro.11:30). Again “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” – (Philip.1:11). Now Zaccheaus was short, but he was a big, juicy, fig – amen. Zacchaeus was a fruit of Christ’s ministry.

 

   In (vs.6) it says that Zacchaeus received Christ joyfully. He received Him into his heart and into his home. Many of the Jews wouldn’t receive Christ – “but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” – (Jn.1:12).

 

   He was a rich sinner saved by grace. Even rich people can get saved, but not many. Most rich people love the almighty dollar and not the Almighty. They put their trust in money and not God. In the chapter before it is written – “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God’ – (Lk.18:24,25). Zacchaeus was one of those camels that got through the eye of the needle into heaven. He could have died like the rich man who died and went to hell in (Lk.16:19-31).

 

   Zacchaeus was a rich publican (we have a lot of rich re-publicans in the U.S. today). He collected taxes from the Jews for the Romans because they were a conquered tributary of Rome. The Jews, rich and poor alike, hated and feared the publicans and especially one who was the “chief” of tax collectors. And he repented too as he boldly declared that Jesus was his 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” – (vs.8). This response was required by the law of Moses for a thief – (Ex.22:1). It was the penalty that David had pronounced on the man in Nathan’s parable – (2 Sam.12:1-5) and the penalty that God imposed on David himself – (2 Sam.12:10). The willingness to give half of everything he had and to make abundant restitution to those he had wronged was evidence of a new heart and a saved soul. Jesus called him “a son of Abraham,” that is a true believer. His name means ‘pure’ and that’s what he became when Christ saved him.

 

   Jesus explained why he had gone – “To be guest with a man that is a sinner.” It was because he was no longer a sinner but a saint, saved by the grace of God. “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” This is probably the key verse in the book of Luke and the reason Christ came to earth, to be our Savior. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” – (I Tim.1:15). Christ came to save even the “chief of sinners” Paul, and therefore even the “chief of publicans.” I wish Christ would save President Bush, the chief of the re-publicans, or otherwise we’re going to pay a lot more taxes like Rome to finance our imperial army. I believe, before too long, many nations will be paying tribute taxes to the new Rome, the U.S.A. That’s exactly what Joseph was paying in Bethlehem when the Lord Jesus was born. Zacchaeus wasn’t the only publican saved, Matthew, one of the 12 apostles, was a publican and gave it all up to follow Christ immediately.

 

   Surely the salvation of Zacchaeus in a sycamore-fig tree shows us other Bible truth. When Adam and Eve sinned, it is written – “…And they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” – (Gen.3:7). The large heart-shaped fig leaves shows that sin is now in the human heart. Jesus said- “For from within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murder…” – (Mk.7:21) and now we must believe on Christ in our heart to be saved – (Rom.10:9).

 

   Those fig leaves represent man’s earliest attempt to cover up his sin, to provide himself with a covering to cloak his guilt and shame. They represent every effort made by man to do something to make himself fit for the presence of God. They represent man’s effort to save himself by his own works. Man can never hide himself from the piercing all-seeing eyes of God. Instead of seeking God and acknowledging their sin and repenting, they attempted to conceal it from God. Such has ever been the way of the natural man. The very last thing he will do is to own before God his lost and undone condition. Conscious that something is wrong with him, he seeks shelter behind his own self-righteousness and trusts that his good works will more than counter-balance his evil sins. Churchgoing, religious exercises, giving food and clothes and things to the needy etc. are the fig leaves which many today are weaving into aprons to cover their spiritual shame. What they are trying to do is to save themselves.

 

   Remember the fig tree, the one on which our Lord found no fruit, and so He cursed it and it died – (Mk.11:20,21). Certainly we’re supposed to put it together with the first sin and the fig leaves. The fig tree was the only thing which our Lord cursed while on this earth and showed that every work that man does to hide his spiritual shame is directly under the curse of Christ, bears no fruit, and is doomed to die like Adam and Eve and everyone else. Instead of a broken-hearted confession of their sin, they tried to cover it up and blamed each other or the serpent. They made excuses and so excused themselves blame. They tried to palliate their sin by shifting responsibility to others. People do it constantly today worldwide.

 

   The only atonement and sin covering that will cover our sins is the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He is the Savior of the world – “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” – (Rom.4:5-8).

 

   When we repent of our sins and believe on Christ in our heart, Christ “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” – (Gal.3:13). Jesus Christ died naked on the tree cross to give “whosoever will” forgiveness of sins that was begun on the tree in the Garden of Eden. When we’re saved and born again by Christ, God turns the curse of sin into a blessing: instead of eternal death He gives us eternal life.

 

   The barren fig tree is seen in another parable of Jesus – (Lk.13:6-9). Each sinner is given a second chance to be born again by God’s grace in His son and produce spiritual, holy fruit and if not, then the judgment falls and he is cut down. And so we see one of the signs of the second coming of Christ in wrath during the great tribulation, the barren fig tree – (Mt.24:32). All who have rejected salvation in Christ and God’s blessing will now receive God’s curse.

 

   And so Zacchaeus in the sycamore fig tree shows us salvation and good, godly fruit in a clear and understandable way. A sinner went up a fig tree and came down saved by Christ and showed his salvation by his fruits of righteousness. And Jesus tells us all as He stood beneath the tree – “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” Zacchaeus was one of the Christ’s human fruits in Jericho.

 

   Are you saved and become a new born again creature in Christ or are you depending on your own fig leaves of good works to save you? Only the blood of Christ can cover your sins and reconcile you with God. Find a quiet place, repent of your sins and believe on Christ in your heart and you will become a new creature in Christ producing new spiritual fruit. The tree-cross of death for sin now becomes a tree of eternal life – “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” – (I Jn.5:11). Be born again and baptized by the Holy Spirit into the church of Christ.

 

Pastor Mike Storti

5000 N. LaCholla- Lot 76

Tucson, AZ  85705

Email: BibleWatchman@aol.com

Website: BibleWatchman.com

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