ON THE CONVERSION OF ZACHEUS. LUKE xix.Consider first, how when our Lord was walking through the city of Jericho, 'there was a man there named Zacheus, who was the chief of the publicans, and he was rich; and he sought to see Jesus, who he was, and he could not for the crowd, because he was of low stature. and he ran before and climbed up into a sycamore tree, hat he might see him, for he was to pass that way.' See here, Christians, the first step towards this wonderful conversion of a rich worldling; that is, one of that sort of men which is usually the most remote from the kingdom of God. 1. He desired to see Jesus who he was. Good desires are the first beginning of all our good; these incline us to seek to see Jesus and to come to him by true wisdom, which consists in truly knowing him - what he is in himself, and what he is in regard to us. Now the beginning of this true wisdom, as we learn from the Spirit of God in the scriptures, is an earnest desire after it; and that is seeking, like Zacheus, to see who Jesus is. 2. He was of low stature and could not see Jesus for the crowd, and therefore he ran before and climbed up into a sycamore tree, that he might see him, for he was to pass that way. Alas! poor sinners, we are also low of stature, through our unhappy weakness and manifold miseries; we are hindered from seeing Jesus by the crowd, that is by the distractions, worldly solicitudes, disorderly affections of our heart, and dissipation of thought in which we live, and by the tumult of our passions; and therefore in order to see and know him, we must get out of the crowd by retirement and recollection of thought; we must run before, by a disengagement of our heart from worldly wisdom and human respect, and embracing the maxims of the gospel, which the world calls foolishness. We must get above the heads of the worldly crowd, by climbing up the tree of the cross, which the world despises and abhors: and then we shall be able to know Jesus, and to contemplate him: for that is the way by which he passes.
Consider 2ndly, that 'when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said to him: Zacheus make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide in thy house. And he made haste and came down, and received him with joy. And when they all saw it, they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man who was a sinner. See here, Christians, how true that is of the wise man, Wisdom vi. 13, &c., that 'wisdom is easily seen by them that love her, and is found by them that seek her, and preventeth them that covet her, so that the first showeth herself unto them.' Our Lord does not only suffer himself to be seen by this publican, but he looks up at him; he calls to him to make haste and to come down to him; he even invites himself into his house to be his guest, and brings along with him salvation into that house. O the happy consequences of seeking to see and to know Jesus, and of getting out of the crowd, into the sycamore tree, to contemplate him! but then we must also learn from the example of Zacheus a ready correspondence with the grace of our Lord, when he looks up and calls; we must not let him go away on this occasion; we must make haste and come down to him without delay; we must accept of the favour of the visit he offers us with thankfulness; we must conduct him with joy into our inward house; we must make him welcome there, by a proper entertainment of devotion and love: thus he will bring salvation with him to our house.
Consider 3rdly, what entertainment Zacheus offered to our Lord, when he had received him into his house. 'Behold, Lord,' saith he, 'the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of anything, I restore him fourfold.' He made a sacrifice to him upon the spot of his predominant passion, even of that love of the mammon of iniquity, which before had been his idol. He gave up at once all his worldly riches, which were so near his heart, to be employed either in alms or in making restitution fourfold, for all ill-gotten goods. He laid down all his sins at the feet of his Saviour, with a sincere detestation and repentance of them all, and a firm resolution to return to them no more, but to make the best satisfaction he could for them. Now this was the most agreeable feast he could make for our Lord, who was pleased immediately to declare: 'this day is salvation come to this house; because he also is a son of Abraham; for the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.' O what comfort was here for Zacheus! O what encouragement for us poor sinners, to imitate the readiness and sincerity of his conversion, that we ma also with him be acknowledged for true sons of Abraham, by following the example of his faith, obedience, and sacrifice; and that the like salvation may come also to our house from him, who ever delights in seeking and saving that which was lost!
Conclude to consider the conversion of Zacheus as a model of a perfect conversion, and to strive to imitate it in every part. Often invite Christ into thy house, and entertain him there in spirit; but see that thou make him a proper feast, even as Zacheus did, by sacrificing to him the dearest affections of thy heart; and never let him go, without giving his blessing to thy house.