Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-seven verses of the nineteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, 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, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down: for to day 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 a guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto 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 tales accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is alvation 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 was lost” (Luke 19:1-10).
“And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten ponds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lor, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said, unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and repaing that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him, but those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:11-27).
JESUS HAD ALREADY TOLD THE PARABLE OF THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN! ZACCHAEUS WAS A PUBLICAN! JESUS HAD DRAWN NIGH UNTO JERICHO AND HAD HEALED A BLIND MAN WHO WAS SITTING BY THE ROAD BEGGING! I WONDER HOW MANY TIMES ZACCHAEUS PASSED BY THIS BLIND MAN BEGGING! IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER WE FIND A MAN WHO WAS NOT ONLY BLIND, BUT ALSO BEGING! PRIOR TO ENCOUNTERING JESUS WOULD ZACCHAEUS HAVE GIVEN ANYTHING TO THIS BLIND MAN? IN THE FINAL VERSES OF THE EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER WE FIND JESUS RESTORING SIGHT TO A BLIND MAN; IN THE OPENING VERSES OF THE NINETEENTH CHAPTER WE FIND JESUS OFFERING SALVATION TO A PUBLICAN! THE BLIND MAN ON THE WAY TO JERICHO; THE CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR IN THE CITY OF JERICHO! FROM THE BLIND MAN BEGGING TO THE RICH MAN WILLING TO GIVE UP HALF OF WHAT HE POSSESSED! THE OFFENDER WILLING TO GIVE UNTO THE POOR AND TO REPAY THE VICTIMS! GIVING TO THE POOR AND RESTORING THE VICTIMS! (IS IT POSSIBLE JESUS ENCOUNTERED A BLIND MAN ENTERING INTO JERICHO, ENCOUNTERED A CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR IN JERICHO, AND TWO BLIND MEN COMING OUT OF JERICHO?) [LUKE 18:35-43] [MATTHEW 20:29-34).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the narrative and account of a chief tax collector from the city of Jericho by the name of Zacchaeus. If you have been a student of the Scripture for any amount of time you will undoubtedly be aware and have some cursory knowledge of who this man was within the city of Jericho. In all reality, it’s quite astounding when thinking about and considering the narrative of Zacchaeus—particularly and especially when you take the time to read it in light of another rich man who entered into the presence of Jesus. What’s more, is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we are to truly understand the narrative of Zacchaeus—not only must we read it in light of Jesus’ entrance into and exit from the city of Jericho, but we must also read it in light of the rich young ruler whom Scripture actually refers to as one who came running into the presence of Jesus, kneeled down before Him, and asked Him, saying, “Good teacher, what good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?” It is truly astonishing to read and consider the words which are found within the four gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, for they not only present us with the narrative of the rich young ruler who would enter into the presence of Jesus—perhaps excited, perhaps anxious, perhaps desperate, and perhaps even nervous—as he would ask what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and yet after hearing the words Jesus would speak to him would depart from His presence sorrowful. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for there is a strong and stark contrast which exists between the rich younger ruler and his encounter with the person and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and this chief tax collector from the city of Jericho who dared run ahead of Jesus and the crowd and climb into a sycamore tree that he might behold Jesus.
If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider when reading the narrative of Zacchaeus it’s that there is absolutely no indication as to what his expectation truly was when he heard and knew that Jesus was to pass by that way. Scripture is absolutely and altogether silent concerning this chief tax collector and what his hopes were when he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up into the sycamore tree. We know that he was of little stature and this would have presented and posed a problem for him in any attempt that would be made to see and behold Jesus among the crowd and great multitude that was with Him. In fact, when you read the words which are found in this portion of Scripture you will find and discover that as Jesus was passing through Jericho He was—as He always was—surrounded and accompanied by a great press of people. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what went through Zacchaeus’ mind as He heard that Jesus was passing by that way, and how he thought he might have a chance for to see him. Perhaps one of the greatest questions I can’t help but ask myself is whether or not Zacchaeus ever anticipated that Jesus would look in his direction, or would call him by name, or would command him to come down from the tree, or even declare that He must needs enter into his house for to commune, dine and fellowship. Scripture is altogether silent concerning what would and could have gone through the heart and mind of Zacchaeus when he heard that Jesus would pass by that way, and we have to wonder if his desire and intention was simply to see this Jesus and who He was. Undoubtedly Zacchaeus had heard all the narratives, all the rumors, all the stories, all the testimonies, and all the witnesses of those whose lives Jesus had direct impacted and had touched within and throughout His life and ministry.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the desire, the intention and the expectation that was present within the heart and soul of Zacchaeus, and I have to believe that Jesus was well aware of what was present within his heart and soul. I would dare suggest that it was Jesus’ being acutely aware of that which was present within the heart and soul of Zacchaeus that directly caused him to turn His gaze, His attention and His focus directly toward Zacchaeus—and not only to turn and direct His gaze toward Zacchaeus, but to do it while surrounded by and accompanied with a great press of people. Scripture makes it absolutely clear that there was indeed a great press of people which had gathered themselves together around Jesus, which would have undoubtedly included His twelve disciples. It would be there in the city of Jericho—this city of victory for the people of God, and this city where the walls of the once great city had collapsed before the children of Israel, and this great city where the children of Israel rescued Rahab the harlot and all her family which was with her in her house on the wall of the city. Here within this once great capital city of Jericho we find a great press of people accompanying, walking with, following and surrounding Jesus as He would walk through this very same place where Joshua would lead the army of Israel up into the midst of it to conquer and subdue it. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder if Zacchaeus was aware of the sin of Achan all those centuries ago after the battle had been won, after the city had been conquered, after the city and people had been subdued, and after the walls had collapsed before the children of Israel. If you turn and direct your attention to the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua you will find that while the victory was still being won and while the battle was still being fought in the midst of the city of Jericho there was a man named Achan who saw that which the LORD had forbidden any person of Israel from taking unto themselves, who coveted and desired that which he saw, who took what he had seen and coveted and had then hidden it beneath his tent in the midst of the children of Israel.
I feel a strong impression to consider the narrative of Achan—particularly in light of the events which took place in the midst of the city of Jericho all those centuries earlier—for Achan was a man who was undoubtedly part of the great host of the army of the children of Israel who marched straight up into the midst of the city of Jericho, and who had engaged himself in battle against the inhabitants of the city. What makes the narrative of Achan so incredibly intriguing when you take the time to think about it is that while the battle was going on and while victory was being won Achan would transgress the command of the LORD God Almighty and would take unto himself the accursed thing which the LORD had instructed the children of Israel not to. What’s more, is that while the battle itself was raging, and while the victory was being won, this man named Achan would see something which his heart would desire and covet, he would take and lay hold of it, and he would hide it underneath his tent. What makes this particular narrative all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that it would be this man’s sin of touching, taking and hiding the accursed thing which the LORD had commanded the children of Israel not to touch that would cause the children of Israel to be defeated before a lesser and smaller city within the land of Canaan immediately after the battle of Jericho. It would be when Joshua and the people would give themselves to despair and confusion at their defeat before the LORD that He would speak and reveal unto them that the reason they were defeated was because there was sin in the camp. This is something that is truly unique, astonishing and interesting when you take the time to think about it, for there is something to be said about the people of God finding and experiencing defeat before their enemies because of the presence of sin in the midst of the camp.
We know from the narrative of Achan that he saw the accursed thing in the midst of the city of Jericho, he coveted the accursed thing within his own heart, he took of the accursed thing, and he hid it within and underneath his tent. It would be the actions of Achan that would not immediately be discerned and brought to light, but would later be brought to light in the midst of battle. Isn’t it quite unique and interesting to think about and consider the fact that Achan’s sins would not immediately be discerned among the children of Israel while they were conquering and subduing the city and inhabitants of Jericho, however, it would be in the midst of the next battle his sin would begin to be exposed. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the narrative of Achan and the children of Israel, and how Achan’s transgression would not have any impact upon the city of Jericho, however, it would have a tremendous impact—not only upon the next battle, but upon the whole camp of the children of Israel. The children of Israel would finishing conquering and subduing the city and inhabitants of Jericho, and when they brought back a scouting report concerning Ai, they would determine that the entire army would not need to go against Ai, for it was a smaller city compared to the size of Jericho. Scripture, however, records and recounts how the children of Israel would march up against the city of Ai and how they would be completely and utterly defeated before their enemies rather than triumphing over them in victory. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Achan had any idea that the defeat of the children of Israel had anything to do with his actions. Was there at any time within the heart and soul of Achan any suspicion that his actions were directly responsible for the loss of life, the defeat, the sorrow, the despair and the confusion of the people of Israel at the battle of Ai?
I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs stop and consider this particular truth and reality, for there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Achan had absolutely no clue that his actions were directly responsible—not only for the loss in battle, but also for the loss of life. Was there at any point in time prior to the LORD revealing the presence of sin in the camp that Achan thought for a single moment that it was his actions which caused and produced the loss in battle and the loss of life? Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering how one man’s actions could directly impact an entire nation—and not only impact an entire nation, but could also impact the battle and determine the outcome of that battle, as well as the loss of life. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering how Achan’s actions didn’t directly impact him or his family—at least not immediately—but they would directly impact the whole nation of Israel, as well as the battle. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that Achan’s actions did not directly impact the children of Israel as they were conquering and subduing the city of Jericho, and it would not immediately and directly impact the children of Israel as they returned to the camp. It would, however, have a direct and powerful impact on the next battle which the children of Israel would indeed fight and engage themselves in, for it would be during that next battle where the children of Israel would be defeated before their enemies and adversaries, and where loss of life would ensue as a direct result. It is truly something astonishing to think about the fact that one man’s actions would and could directly impact an entire nation for better or worse—and not only impact an entire nation, but could also impact the very next battle which the people of God would face. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is, for there is something to be said about Achan’s actions and how his actions of coveting, stealing and hiding would not only result in the loss in battle, but would also result in the loss of life. This is something which we cannot afford to miss, for it might very well help us to recognize and understand the narrative of Zacchaeus and why he was so anxious to see Jesus—and perhaps not only see Jesus, but even have some type of interaction with Him.
I am sitting here this morning thinking about and considering the narrative of Achan, and I am finding myself being absolutely and completely gripped with the fact that his actions would not immediately impact himself or his family, but it would have a great impact on the whole nation of Israel and the people of God. Stop for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible that truly is, for the actions of Achan would have a direct impact in the midst of battle on the whole nation of Israel, and specifically within the battle itself. Not only this, but Achan’s actions would directly result in the loss of countless lives in the midst of the battle as the people of God would be defeated and turned back and routed by their enemies. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading these words and this passage of Scripture, for it calls and draws our attention to how one man’s actions and one man’s sins can directly impact an entire nation and an entire group of people. What’s more, is that Achan’s actions not only directly impact the lives of those who were lost in the battle, and not only directly impact those who survived the battle at Ai just after the battle of Jericho, but it would also directly impact the whole camp of the children of Israel as it would thrust the nation and people into confusion, doubt, fear, anxiety, terror and dread. Not only this, but Achan’s actions would cause the people of God to doubt and question His bringing them into the midst of the land of Canaan only to defeat them before their enemies. The children of Israel could not understand, nor could they fathom how or why they would and could be defeated before their enemies and adversaries—especially after experiencing such a mighty victory at Jericho, and considering how much smaller in size and scope Ai was compared to Jericho. This is something we must needs pay close and careful attention to, for it’s incredibly intriguing to think about and consider how one man’s actions can indeed direct impact an entire nation—and not only impact an entire nation, but can thrust an entire nation into turmoil, into panic, into confusion, into rage, into anger, into despair, and so much more.
This particular thought of how one man’s actions can directly impact an entire nation and thrust that nation into confusion, terror, turmoil, panic, despair, rage and anger was seen in full force last year when a Caucasian police officer by the name of Derek Chauvin was pictured with his knee on the neck of an unarmed African American man by the name of George Floyd. This nation and the world was forever shocked and rocked at the video and footage that not only showed this officer’s knee on the neck of this man, but also the cry of this man saying that he couldn’t breathe. Regardless of whether or not George Floyd’s death was a direct result of the actions of Derek Chauvin is entirely and altogether irrelevant, for what we must needs recognize and understand is that his actions directly thrust this nation into chaos and turmoil for weeks and months to come. Even as recently as last week we saw how this nation is still reeling from the actions of this Minneapolis police officer, and how his trial was blasted all over and across media outlets within and throughout the country. The whole nation sat on the edge of their seats as the trial loomed on and as the defense and the prosecution made their cases before the jury would finally deliberate and make their decision on whether or not Derek Chauvin was guilty of the three charges which were brought against him. It is absolutely undeniable how this one man’s actions, which might have lasted less than thirty minutes in total catapulted this nation into an intense period of civil unrest, tension, divide, turmoil, anger, rage, hatred, malice, confusion and the like. It is absolutely and utterly incredible to think about and consider how the actions of one man can have such a tremendous impact on an entire nation and can thrust an entire nation into utter chaos and confusion. This man’s actions had a direct impact on this nation for more than half of a year, and this nation is still on the edge of its seat waiting to see what types of appeals will be made in response to this case, as well as what the final sentencing is going to be.
I write and speak about the narrative of Derek Chauvin and George Floyd and how this one man’s actions directly impacted an entire nation when these images and footage were broadcasted and blasted across and throughout media outlets within and across the country. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize and understand that there are and there have been countless other individuals whose actions have directly influence and impacted this nation—and not only this nation, but perhaps entire cities. From wealthy millionaire and billionaire CEO’s, to wealth and prosperity pastors and televangelists, to politicians and other individuals, we have watched and witnessed how individuals have directly impacted the course of this nation, and has thrust this nation into chaos, confusion, turmoil, tension, division, and so much more. Oh it is important for us to recognize and understand this, for there is not a doubt in my mind that Achan had any thought that his actions would have any impact on the nation and people of Israel. I do not believe for a single moment that Achan had any clue that his actions would directly impact the nation and people of Israel, and/or would even have an impact on the very next battle that would be fought. There is not a doubt in my mind that Achan had any clue that his actions of taking the accursed thing and hiding it underneath his tent in the midst of the camp of the people of God would have not only resulted in the loss of battle, and not only would have resulted in the loss of life, but would also result in the entire camp and people of Israel being thrust into confusion, chaos, turmoil, doubt, fear, and the like. Oh we must needs recognize and acknowledge this, for it presents us with a tremendous and powerful picture of how one person’s actions can indeed and can in fact directly impact others—and perhaps not only others, but perhaps also an entire community, or an entire town, or an entire village, or an entire city, or even an entire nation.
There is something to be said about the narrative and account of Achan, for when you read the account of his actions in light of a great victory the children of Israel and people of God had experienced you will find that his actions alone opened up the people of God to suffer defeat before their enemies and adversaries. What’s more, is that you have to be somewhat intrigued and surprised that although Achan’s actions would not be brought to light in the relative peace and calm after the battle of Jericho was won and after victory had been afforded to the people of God, it would, however, come to light in the midst of the next battle. What’s more, is that it is quite interesting and astounding to think about and consider the fact that the actions, the iniquity, the transgression and the sin of Achan would indeed and would in fact be brought to light—not in a time of peace, but in a time of battle. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for Achan’s actions would be exposed—not necessarily in the midst of the battle, but after the battle had been lose and the people of God defeated. It’s truly something worth thinking about and considering how Achan’s actions would not even be discerned during and in the midst of the battle, however, it would in fact be brought to light after the battle had been lost, and as the people of God were crying out in despair and confusion before Him after having lost to their enemies. It would be from that place of loss of life and from that place of defeat that the sin of Achan would indeed and would in fact be revealed and exposed. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced there is something to be said about this, for more often than not it is during times of defeat and during times of life that the sin(s) of others are brought to light. We tend to think that sin, transgression and iniquity is brought to light during times of peace, calm and rest, and yet what we find in this particular narrative is that this men’s sin would be brought into the light and exposed as a direct result of loss of life in battle, as well as in light of defeat in that battle.
I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we are witnessing during these days in which we are living—and not only in the days in which we are living, but also in the days in which we have lived and walked through over the past year plus—is that the sin(s), the iniquity, the transgression(s), the wickedness, and the corruption that has been hidden for quite some time is being brought into the light and is being exposed. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering the fact that more often than not it is during times of battle, during times of conflict, during times of warfare, and during times of such intense struggle that sin, iniquity, wickedness, rebellion and corruption is brought to the light. Achan’s actions weren’t immediately discerned, recognized and revealed as the people were enjoying the victory over the city and people of Jericho, however, his actions would be brought to light in direct response to loss of life in the battle, as well as in direct response to the people of God suffering defeat before and at the hands of their enemies. This is something we must needs recognize and understand, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth that it is during times of warfare, conflict, battle, struggle, and the like that sin, corruption, wickedness, idolatry, iniquity, and the like are often brought into the light. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering that this man’s actions would have a direct impact on those who entered into battle, as well as upon the whole camp of the children of Israel after they had suffered defeated before and at the hands of their enemies and adversaries. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for Achan’s actions would have a direct impact on those around him. Not only would his actions result in the deaths of his family and household, not only would his actions result in the deaths of those whose lives were lose in the first battle of Ai, but his actions would result in defeat in battle, as well as the nation being thrust into chaos, confusion, despair, fear and doubt as they wondered within themselves how and why God could bring them into the land of Canaan to be defeated before their enemies. It is with this in mind I now invite you to consider the narrative written in the sixth and seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua concerning this man Achan and how his actions would directly impact an entire nation:
“And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both. Man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, the put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it. So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country” (Joshua 6:16-27).
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to AI, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Beth-el, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for thy chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the Ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof: and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man. And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath; because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel” (Joshua 7:1-15).
“So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: and he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: and he brought his household by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah was taken. And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD> And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? The LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day” (Joshua 7:16-26).
ACHAN, THE MAN WHO TROUBLED ISRAEL! ZACCHAEUS, THE MAN WHO TROUBLED JERICHO! The narrative that surrounds Achan is such that is absolutely remarkable and astounding when you take the time to consider it, for Achan was referred to as the man who not only troubled Israel, but who also brought a curse upon the people before the LORD their God. What’s more, is that it was a direct result of Achan’s actions that resulted in the death of thirty and six men, and the defeat of the two to three thousand soldiers which were sent up against Ai. It’s worth noting and considering when reading the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua, for within the Old Testament book of Joshua you will find Achan was referred to as the man who troubled Israel, and how His actions caused Israel to become cursed before the LORD their God. Not only this, but Achan’s actions also resulted in the fierceness of the anger of the LORD to be directed toward and against the children of Israel because he had not only touched the accursed thing, but had taken it for himself and hidden it within and underneath his tent. It is with this in mind I can’t help but see a strong connection and link between Achan who troubled Israel because of his covetousness, because of his stealing, and because of his hiding and lying. As a direct result of his actions the children of Israel became victims before their enemies and adversaries—and not only did they become victims before their enemies and adversaries, but they were also temporarily prevented from triumphing and overcoming their enemies. This is truly worth thinking about and considering when reading the narrative of Zacchaeus, for while Zacchaeus might not have been considered as one who troubled Israel, he might very well have been considered as one who troubled Jericho. To be a tax collector during those days would carry with it a tremendous stigma attached to it, for you were essentially employed by the Romans to exact taxes upon the people of God to make Rome richer and wealthier. What’s more, is that tax collectors during those days were undoubtedly corrupt, for they would not only falsely accuse others, but they would also result to extortion to take excess from the people that they might not only give unto Rome what belonged unto Rome, but would also line their own pockets and purses with the excess.
The more I consider the narrative and account of Zacchaeus the more I can’t help but be completely and utterly gripped with the account surrounding his life, for Zacchaeus might not have been one who troubled all of Galilee, and he might not have been one who troubled all of Judaea, but he might very well have been one who troubled Jericho. What’s more, is that this man was not only a tax collector, but this man was a chief tax collector—one who perhaps oversaw all the other tax collectors, and one who might very well have been more corrupt than the others combined. Scripture is entirely unclear what Zacchaeus being the chief tax collector would and could have meant for him, however, what we can and must needs recognize is when you consider the fact that even when Zacchaeus stood before Jesus within his household—not only did he declare that he would give half of his goods to the poor, but also that if he had taken any thing from any man by false accusation, he would restore him four-fold. There is not a doubt based on Zacchaeus’ own words that he was one who greatly troubled the city of Jericho and its inhabitants. There is not a doubt in my mind that Zacchaeus was one who greatly troubled this city and perhaps even terrorized its inhabitants. I cannot help but think about and consider the fact that when we read the narrative of Zacchaeus we find one who undoubtedly lied, cheated, falsely accused, and perhaps even became rich at the expense of those within the city of Jericho. There is not a doubt in my mind that Zacchaeus was a man who had indeed become rich off the backs of the inhabitants of Jericho—not only by collecting taxes for the Romans, but also based on victimizing and terrorizing the inhabitants of the city. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Zacchaeus was a man who might very well have been abhorred, despised and even vehemently hated by all those within the city of Jericho for his association with Rome, and for his own actions in victimizing and terrorizing the inhabitants of the city through false accusation and extortion.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is, for there is not a doubt in my mind that Zacchaeus was one who greatly troubled and greatly distressed the city and inhabitants on a consistent basis. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear how long Zacchaeus had been a tax collector, or even what he had done to become a chief tax collector, however, suffice it to say that he had undoubtedly worked his way up to being a chief tax collector. The words which we find in this portion of Sripture are absolutely remarkable and astounding when you take the time to think about them, for they call and draw our attention to the fact that Zacchaeus undoubtedly had perhaps done anything and everything to be a chief tax collector in the midst of the city of Jericho. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Zacchaeus had not only defrauded, falsely accused, terrorized and victimized the inhabitants of Jericho themselves, but might have possibly done the same to those who were underneath him. I have always read this passage and thought that the only ones who were perhaps victimized by Zacchaeus were the inhabitants of Jericho themselves, and yet the truth of the matter is that it might very well be possible that he even oppressed the tax collectors under him and those who were considered as his colleagues and/or subordinates. Oh I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by this particular truth, for it is highly likely that not only did this chief tax collector oppress the people of Jericho themselves, but he might very well have even oppressed those who were underneath him. I think it would be incredibly naïve to think that Zacchaeus only terrorized, victimized and oppressed the inhabitants of the city of Jericho and did not perhaps at the same time oppress those who were under him. It is quite possible and very likely that there were a great number of men and women within the city of Jericho who were greatly oppressed by Zacchaeus—many of which might have been included in the press of people which were present before and around the person of Jesus.
The more I think about and consider the words found in this portion of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the fact that some of the very ones whom Zacchaeus might have victimized and oppressed within the city of Jericho were walking with and following Jesus. What’s more, is that I am even more certain that many of them were alarmed—perhaps even disgusted—with Jesus when He not only looked the way of Zacchaeus, and not only commanded him to make haste and come down from the tree, but also declared unto him that He must needs be a guest in his house on that very day. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Zacchaeus had already purposed and resolved within his heart before even inviting Jesus into his home that he no longer wanted to be a troubler of the people and no longer wanted to be a troubler in the city of Jericho. Perhaps Zacchaeus was aware of the man named Achan who troubled Israel through and by his actions, and how this man’s actions not only resulted in the loss of life, but also the people of Israel being defeated before their enemies. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the narrative of Zacchaeus that there must have been something within his heart and soul that not only prompted him to want to see Jesus, but even when Jesus was in his house emphatically declare that he was willing to give half of his goods to the poor and would restore four-fold unto anyone whom he had taken anything by false accusation. Oh it’s quite interesting to read the words which this chief tax collector had spoken, for the words which he spoke in the company and presence of Jesus suggest that he himself had terrorized, victimized, oppressed and distressed the people within the city. Undoubtedly there were those present within the city of Jericho who were indeed and victimized by Zacchaeus, and might have even lost a considerable amount as a result of his actions.
As I sit here and think about the words which are found here in this portion of Scripture I can’t help but see an incredibly powerful picture of this chief tax collector who would not only give to the poor, but who would also restore unto the victims anything he had taken by false accusation. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading these words that Zaccheaus was one who in the presence and hearing of Jesus not only vowed to distribute to the poor, but to also restore four-fold unto those whom he might have victimized and terrorized. When Jesus heard these words spoken by Zacchaeus—not only did He declare that salvation (and perhaps even forgiveness) had come to this house, but also that this man was also a son of Abraham. If there is one thing I can’t help but wonder and think about when reading the words which are found in this portion of Scripture it’s what it must have been like for the inhabitants and city of Jericho after Jesus had departed from the house of this chief tax collector. I do not believe for one moment that Jesus would have declared unto Zacchaeus that salvation had come to his house on this particular day if He did not discern an authentic and genuine repentance—and not only a genuine repentance, but also a willingness to make amends and make right that which he had wronged. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what Zacchaeus’ life was life A.D., or “after Christ.” I can’t help but wonder what the next day, or days, or weeks, or perhaps even months were like for this chief tax collector as he began distributing unto the poor. Imagine what the poor in the city of Jericho would have thought as they saw this chief tax collector coming unto them—one whose reputation they had known and understood. Oh, although they might not have directly been impacted by Zacchaeus in oppression, they would directly be impacted by him in his giving. What a truly awesome and powerful thought it is to consider how during those days after Jesus came into Zacchaeus’ house—not only were those who were impacted by him in oppression touched by his repentance, but so also were those who perhaps weren’t victimized by him in oppression touched by his willingness to give unto them.
There is something to be said about the life of this chief tax collector after his encounter with Jesus, for not only would he have a tremendous work before him in giving and distributing unto the poor, thus radically transforming those within the city, but he would also have a tremendous work before him in restoring unto those whom he had oppressed, and taken more than he should have through false accusation. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for those within the city of Jericho—perhaps even those who murmured and grumbled at Jesus for going into the house of one who was a sinner—to receive a knock on their door and see Zacchaeus standing outside with a generous gift and portion which he would give unto them. I can’t help but wonder what it would and could have been like for Jericho, for although Zacchaeus could not open the eyes of the blind men who were outside the city, he could nonetheless engage in powerful ministry within the city of Jericho. Oh it’s truly something worth thinking about and considering the fact that when and as Jesus was entering into the city of Jericho He would open the eyes of the blind man, and as He was departing from the city of Jericho He would restore sight to the eyes of two blind men who were present on the road outside of the city. Although Zacchaeus could not restore sight unto the blind men that were outside of the city, he could indeed and could in fact minister to the poor. Oh imagine the tremendous revival that would and could have taken place within the city of Jericho as the eyes of blind men outside the city were opened, and as Zacchaeus was present within the city distributing to the poor and restoring unto those who were victims of his previous life as a chief tax collector. Oh what’s more, is I can’t help but wonder if Zacchaeus—like Levi who was also called Matthew—gave us his role and post as a tax collector and publican and devoted his life to ministry and restoration within the city of Jericho.
The narrative of Zacchaeus is such that is incredibly strong and powerful when you take the time to consider it, for here we have this man who had undoubtedly victimized a number of people within the city of Jericho—perhaps even those who were part of the press which walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ through the streets of Jericho. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it was like when those who were part of the press saw Zacchaeus in the tree for to see Jesus—and not only saw Zacchaeus in the tree, but also saw Jesus’ reaction and response to this chief tax collector. We know that there were those present within the press who murmured within and among themselves when Jesus desired to enter into the home of this chief tax collector, for they complained that He had gone into the home of a sinner. I can hear certain of those who were present in the city of Jericho perhaps complaining and murmuring within themselves wondering how Jesus could not only enter into the home of a sinner, but also one who had perhaps ruined their life. Is it possible that there were those who were present in the press walking with and surrounding Jesus who were forced with a tremendous decision to make as they not only followed Jesus, but also saw Jesus desire to and enter into the home of this chief tax collector. How do you walk with and follow Jesus who was not only willing to enter into the home of someone who had oppressed and wronged you, but also grant salvation unto that particular individual? How do you justify within your own heart and soul walking with and following Jesus who would be willing to not only entertain one who had oppressed and victimized you, but also one who had wronged you and perhaps even ruined your life? There is something about this narrative that is truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it, for it says something about the choice and decision those which were part of the press would have to make if they wished to continue walking with and following Jesus.
We know there were those who were part of the press who murmured and grumbled at and with Jesus because He was not only willing to entertain this chief tax collector, but was also willing to enter into his house. Scripture paints a powerful picture that there were those present within the press on this particular day who could not understand how and why Jesus would and could entertain this chief tax collector and enter into his home, for after all, he had done so much damage and wrong unto them and within the city and community. I would love to know what it was like for the city of Jericho as after Jesus departed from this chief tax collector’s house as the poor began to be ministered to and as the victims began to experience restoration and reconciliation. What’s more, is I can’t help but wonder if Zacchaeus’ actions did not directly impact those who were under him, as he would undoubtedly influence them and how they conducted themselves within the city. Is it possible that relationships within this city were entirely and altogether transformed as a direct result of Jesus being willing to enter into the home of this chief tax collector? Perhaps one of the questions we must ask ourselves is whether or not we have space and capacity within our own hearts and minds for Jesus to enter into the homes of such individuals within our day and generation—and not only enter into their homes, but also grant unto them salvation. If there is one thing we must recognize and realize when reading this particular passage is that Jesus didn’t merely grant salvation unto this chief tax collector, but so also did Jesus restore and reaffirm his identity as a son of Abraham. It is truly awesome and powerful to read and consider that not only did Jesus grant salvation unto this chief tax collector, but he also restored unto him his identity as a son of Abraham, and even reaffirmed that identity unto those who were before and around him on this particular day.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I am absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that Zacchaeus experienced such a tremendous transformation within his heart and soul—one that would directly impact the entire city of Jericho. What’s more, is that not only would Zacchaeus’ transformation directly impact the city of Jericho, but I would also dare say that his actions directly impacted those tax collectors who were under him. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that Zacchaeus’ relationships with those who were under him were dramatically transformed as perhaps he no longer oppressed and victimized them, as well as perhaps was a wonderful and tremendous witness and example to them of the transformation and deliverance of Jesus. I would love to know what it was like in the city of Jericho after Jesus departed and as Zacchaeus undoubtedly began giving unto the poor and as the poor in the city began to experience ministry from one who was previously a chief tax collector, and perhaps from one who had previously despised them. I would love to know what it was like for some of those same ones who grumbled that Jesus would enter into this man’s house, and for some of those who were present in the press with Jesus to find themselves experiencing the restoration which Zacchaeus spoke about. What does it do for you within your heart and mind to at one point grumble and murmur at Jesus for entertaining and entering into the house of one who had oppressed you when that same one whom you viewed as a sinner begins to demonstrate compassion and restoration to you? What do you think—not only of Jesus, but also of that one in whose house Jesus entered into as you begin to see and witness the transformation and restoration that begins to take place in the midst of the city? How do you reconcile your view, your opinion, and your belief in Jesus as you begin to witness and behold the transformation of this one who was a sinner, and you begin to see and witness this particular individual engage themselves in the awesome and wonderful ministry of reconciliation and distribution.
I bring this writing to a close by emphatically declaring that it must needs do something within our hearts and our souls when we witness and behold a sinner in whose house Jesus entered into begin to walk in restoration, reconciliation and transformation. There is not a doubt in my mind that there were those who were part of the press walking with and following Jesus, and those who had grumbled and murmured at Jesus for entertaining and entering into the house of one who was a sinner to perhaps not only witness and behold this radical transformation, but also be a recipient of that transformation and restoration. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that the view, the perception and the opinion of Jesus might very well have dramatically changed and been transformed as a direct result of witnessing Zacchaeus begin giving into the poor, as well as restoring unto those whom he had wronged and oppressed. It truly does something within our hearts and our souls when we not only see Jesus entertaining and entering into the house of one who is a sinner, and not only granting salvation unto that one who was a sinner, but to also witness and behold the transformation within that particular individual’s life as you see it unfold before and with your very eyes. Oh how absolutely remarkable and incredible it truly is to read the words which are found in this portion and passage of Scripture, for this one who previously troubled Jericho was now one who ministered unto Jericho. This one who had previously oppressed Jericho was now this one who was beginning to restore unto Jericho. This one who had previously ignored and neglected the poor was now one who was eager to give unto the poor. This one who was previously irresponsible when it came to those who were under him was now serving as a powerful witness and testimony to those tax collectors who reported to him. What’s more, is that perhaps Zacchaeus had chosen to no longer work as a tax collector and now vowed to spend the rest of his days giving unto the poor and restoring unto those whom he had oppressed. Oh how absolutely remarkable and incredible this truly is when you think about the transformation and restoration that would and could have taken place within the city of Jericho as this former chief tax collector would experience an encounter with Jesus that so radically altered and transformed his life that he would begin engaging in ministry unto the poor and would begin restoring unto those whom he had victimized. In fact, I would dare say that Jesus recognized and understood this and knew that Zacchaeus would be and was the key to the city of Jericho and that if He could transform Zacchaeus he would transform an entire city. Oh that we would read this powerful narrative and encounter and come face to face with a Jesus who is willing to entertain and enter into the houses and homes of the Zacchaeus’ of our days and grant unto them salvation—and not only grant unto them salvation, but also use them as instruments of ministry, restoration, transformation, reconciliation, change, compassion, mercy and grace.