Q&A after the Sermon
You mentioned that holiness is to fire,as sin is to wood. Can you elaborate on that?
By it’s very nature, fire consumes wood. It’s just the way it is. God’s holiness is incompatible with sin. It’s just the way it is. God isn’t saying “You know what, these people are really ticking me off because they’re sinning so I’m going to wipe them out.” That’s a humanistic response. Holiness has to deal with sin in some way. There has to be punishment, it has to be dealt with. It’s just the nature of things, that holiness consumes sin (or sinners) in judgment. That’s what Christ took for us, that punishment.
Shalom is peace with God, another image of salvation. At what point in the story did Zacchaeus enter into shalom with God?
I’m not sure, there are some blanks in the story that we are having to fill in. At some point he came to faith but I’m not sure when it is. I tend to think that it was already in the works before he met Jesus. Maybe that was the point when it all came together. Maybe it had come together before that and that’s why he was so eager to find Jesus. He’d already accepted Jesus as his savior and wanted to say “Hey Jesus, look what I’m going to do because I’m a different person.” But I don’t know where in the story that decision was made.
Look at verse six. It says, “So he (Zacchaeus) quickly came down and welcomed Him joyfully.” That word ‘joyful’ is the Greek word chairon. Luke uses that word nine times in his gospel to describe an attitude of joy accompanying faith and salvation. Do you remember the conversation we looked at several weeks ago between Jesus and the Pharisee who had invited him to his home? Remember that Jesus pointed out the tepid nature of the Pharisee’s response to him which was in contrast to the woman who anointed his feet with expensive oil. What made the difference? Jesus said that one had experienced forgiveness and the other had not.
The joyful response we see from Zacchaeus is evidence of his faith in Christ. The second piece of evidence is his repentant heart. No one is saved without facing their own sinfulness. It is a very personal interaction with God because you have to own up to who you are in the presence of a holy God. And that’s not pretty. The OT asks this rhetorical question, “Who is able to stand in the presence of this holy Lord God?” And the unstated answer is no one. That’s who you are.
My family and I watched a movie the other day and there was this young lady who was stranded in a bus station in an urban downtown kind of setting. And she had lost her glasses, and without them she really couldn’t see much beyond very fuzzy shapes. Well at one point she sees a cat and she goes over and picks it up and begins to pet it and talk nicely to it. She discovers, however, that it’s not a cat when to custodial workers tell her to drop it. She refuses until they tell her that it is actually a large sewer rat. At that point she drops it and runs away screaming.
What a great picture of a repentant heart. We begin to see our sin for what it really is. My favorite definition of repentance is this, “Whereas we once sided with our sin against a dreadful God, now we side with God against our dreadful sin.” I think that’s what’s going on here. As this moment of faith comes to a climax, and again we don’t see all that led up to this, but as it comes together here, Zacchaeus sees his sin for what it is. And the evidence of that is in his actions. He deals with his sin.