THERE came the day when Jesus told His disciples of His approaching death (Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34). He knew from the beginning that He must die. It was no mere happening, but part of the Divine plan from all eternity. But beyond the cross He saw also the resurrection.
How distressing is the contrast when, immediately after this statement and the parable of laborers, should come the request of James and John for favored places in His kingdom! How much they had to learn! They were to drink of the cup of persecution, but only God could award places. Jesus rebuked the spirit that seeks the upper places. We are great only as we serve. He Himself declares that He came to give His life a ransom for many—a clear statement of the atonement.
Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) is a type of the sinner, blind and begging. No matter what else you see or what else you own, if Christ has not opened your eyes, you are a blind beggar. Bartimaeus cried out. Emotion has been outlawed in our churches, but if sinners truly realized their plight they would cry for mercy while Jesus is passing by. Notice that some tried to discourage Bartimaeus, and even Christians may discourage earnest seekers, but Jesus can hear the sinner’s cry over all the din and tumult. Notice that Bartimaeus knew what he needed first and most: his sight. And when he received it he followed Christ, glorifying God. That is the Christian experience: first the new sight, then following the Lord with joy.
Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) was a tax-collector for Rome and a Jew, which made a despised combination. But he sought to see Jesus. We crowd the streets when the President passes, but how many go to pains to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was little of stature and could not get through the crowd. The things that get in one’s way when he starts out to see Jesus! These people also were out to see Jesus, so sometime even good people with good intentions get in the way of the seeking sinner. But Zacchaeus would not be discouraged; he climbed a sycamore. There is always a sycamore for the man who really wants a blessing. Of course, it was not dignified to climb the tree, but when a man really wants to get through to Jesus he will forget dignity and custom and press through the crowd, or tear up the roof, or climb a tree to get through to Christ. How we need a holy desperation today that will not be stopped short of Jesus!
Mind you, Zacchaeus was on the right road, “for He was to pass that way.” There are some roads Christ does not travel: pride, haughtiness, mere morality, skepticism. And Jesus saw Zacchaeus. Christ is always looking for the seeking soul. He told Zacchaeus He was going home with him. Christ wants to live with us, not merely meet us at church. And Zacchaeus came down in haste and received Him joyfully and offered to make restitution for all his past money-grabbing. It is a fine evidence of regeneration when a man gives back the things that don’t belong to him. This man’s faith hit his pocketbook! He was not saved because he did this, he did this because he was saved. He was a double child of Abraham, by flesh and by faith.
Jesus is passing by. Set out to see Him though you must climb a sycamore.