Tag Archives: Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus

Just back from an excellent service at Dumfries Northwest Church, where four of us shared the conduct of worship.

The Scripture Reading (and the theme) was the New Testament story of Zacchaeus.

It reminded me of a story concerning Charles Spurgeon and a student in training for the ministry

 

 

Part of the training involved  the students preaching before their fellow classmates.

Spurgeon would call a student to the front of the class, hand him a text, and ask him to preach on it.

Once, the selected student stood up in front of the class and said, “I have been given the New Testament passage: Luke 19, verses 1-10.

“There are three things I would like to point out about Zacchaeus:

“I would like to say in the first place, he was a little man and so am I.

“I would remark in the second place, he was up a tree and so am I.

“And I would emphasize in the third place, he made haste and came down and so will I.”

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New Wine

What do the following have in common?  Zacchaeus, St. Paul, St Augustine, Francis of Assisi, John Newton the hymnwriter, Francis Thomson the poet?

All had a firm conviction in the power of Christ to change people’s lives.

Zacchaeus – from quisling to follower of Christ

Saul – from persecutor to Paul the apostle

Augustine – from wastrel to holy man

Francis – from self-centred indolence to friar and saint

Newton – from slaver to hymnist

Thomson – from hopeless drunk to Christian apologist

All changed , all made new –  like countless others before and since and yet to come – through the transforming power of Jesus Christ who makes all things new.

If you’ve looked at the Gospel according to St John even superficially, you will have noticed that it’s considerably different from the others.

It’s as if the author is seeing things from a different perspective.  He seems to get behind the facts, giving them a meaning and significance that are eternal.

He sees in the actions of Jesus something that is forever true; something that is still happening – happening even now.

The first miracle to be recorded by John is the story of turning water into wine.  Some versions of the Bible refer to this as the first of the ‘signs’ that Jesus did.

And John, who had had many years to contemplate on what Christ did – sees in it something of profound significance.

Dull ordinary water, common H2O can become rich rich wine, full of bouquet and sparklinmg with promise.

And if water can become wine, the ordinary man or woman can become something exciting and rich and effervescent.

John is trying to convey to us that whenever Christ comes into our lives, there enters into them a new quality which is like turning water into wine – new exhilaration.

But where’s the key to this?  How does life become new?

I once heard this story – a man was preaching at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.  There was only a handful of disinterested listeners there.  But he preached on telling them about how marvellous Christ is.

A heckler interrupted him – ‘Here!’ he shouted ‘All this Jesus this and Jesus that…he’s been around for two thousand years and he’s done nothing for me!’

The preacher stopped and said ‘Friend, water has been around for several million years but by the look of your dirty face, it hasn’t done you much good either!’

Do you see it?  You need CONTACT if all is to change in your life.  You need contact if things are to become new.

And this contact?  Look again at the story of the wedding at Cana.  This is how Jesus revealed his glory says John, AND HIS DISCIPLES BELIEVED IN HIM.

Belief is the point of contact.

‘Behold, I make all things new’ says the risen and glorified Christ.  Do you believe it?  Can you dare believe it to be true?

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Shortest Sermon 2

Charles Spurgeon once asked a ministerial student to preach an impromptu sermon, the result of which deserved entry in the Guinness World Records for the shortest sermon ever preached. The student preacher proclaimed the entire sermon in three sentences. Appropriately, the topic was Zacchaeus:

“First, Zacchaeus was a man of small stature; so am I. Second, Zacchaeus was very much up a tree; so am I. Third, Zacchaeus made haste and came down; so will I.”

With that, the student sat down to shouts of “More, more!” from his fellows. “No,” said Spurgeon. “He could not improve upon that if he tried.”1

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October 21, 2012 · 05:33