The Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
Third Sunday after Trinity
O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Before our prayers are answered, they must be heard and recorded in Heaven. Prayers that fall short of the will of God, or which are offered out of a heart that harbors sinful inclinations. So, the opening line pleads for the hearing of our prayers by God Almighty. God hears our prayers, precisely as the Collect says, out of mercy and not some presumed constraint. There are churches today who have opted for the heresies of ancient days in teaching that God has no choice but to hear and grant our prayer requests. Who is Sovereign, God or Man? I may upset the comfort of many in declaring my belief that there is more error taught in the modern church than truth. It is no wonder that our nation and people have sunk to their lowest moral point in history while churches teach that adultery, homosexuality, luke-warm obedience and a laxity of worship is acceptable so long as the treasury of the church offering pot is filled.
There are churches here in Alabama which note seven or eight different categories of offering on the Offering Envelope. If one or two boxes are not checked, the pastor makes public notice of it. There are special secular holidays, such as New Years Eve, at which the preacher prays for all the children of the church. These young innocents line up to be blessed by the pastor holding an envelope containing an offering clearly stated on the outside as to amount. If the amount is handsome, the prayer and blessing seems to be more intense and of greater duration. May I ask the difference between this principle and that of Roman indulgences which spurred the great Reformer, Martin Luther, to flee to Protestantism? Our first prayer should always be that our lives and actions reflect the character from which God may hear our prayers: O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us.
“. . . grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray.” Our petitions will be more in line with God’s will to grant if our prayers emerge from a hearty desire to pray. Are your prayers and desires to pray hearty? Do you pray at first and last light of day? Is your life a perpetual attitude of prayer? Prayer is a privilege at least as much as a duty. If we pray out of obligation only, our prayers are not offered in the proper spirit. People often petition to meet their Senator or Congressman to redress some trivial human grievance. They may wait days or weeks before the meeting is granted, and then the request may be given lip service only. But no one must wait in line to make their petitions known to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a privilege to have the veil of separation in the Temple ripped from top to bottom so that all men may come on equal footing for their personal prayers to a Holy God. How can we neglect so great a privilege! Having so much greater vision than we have – in fact, perfect vision – God will even edit our requests so that a greater good to us will result from that for which we, at first, asked. We are children lacking a wider knowledge of the science of life, but God knows and answers our prayers accordingly.
“. . . may, by thy mighty aid, be defended.” God is truly our ONLY defense. That defense is reserved in greater measure for those who are minded to pray. Though God may not send mighty acts of nature to destroy a wicked people, He is inclined to defend His people from the effects of such cataclysmic events. Our youth in the public school system are not afforded the privilege of prayer to which I was exposed as a child. Therefore, evil and wickedness have a welcome door and access to our youth of America. God bless those parents who are able to home-school their children.
Not only are we defended, in our prayers, from many dangers, toils and snares, but we are comforted therein as well. “. . . and comforted in all dangers and adversities. This principle is confirmed over and over in Holy Scripture. It has even been confirmed in my own life. It is not the case that God has spared me from very trying and difficult situations, but He has comforted and defended me therein. I have experienced a sense of ease even when those whose duty it is to render medical treatment are near panic. I do not wish to leave this world not knowing if my family is well, but I do not either fear death. It took me a while to develop that level of comfort in God, but, having it, I am relieved of many tensions and stresses. This last phrase of the Collect was appropriately added by the Prayer Book revisers of 1662, for it is not only a defense that we are granted, but a comfort and peace of mind under all circumstances.
My favorite minister of the modern era is the Rev Adrian Rogers – a Baptist. Several years ago, Adrian (now deceased) made a comment that got him in immediate hot water. He was the President of the Southern Baptist Convention when he said: “All prayer must be offered in the name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the prayers of the Jews are not heard.” Though his remark was absolutely consistent with the very words of Christ, he was ridiculed and condemned widely, even among his own churchmen, for making the statement.”And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14) This is not a license to ask anything we WANT, but we may ask anything CHRIST wants for our lives if we ask it under His Name and Authority! When you offer your prayers, do you do so out of an earnest determination to ask only those things that are satisfying to God and out of a knowledge of His Holy Word? If not, why do we pray: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10)?
THE HOLY GOSPEL
1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 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. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 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 false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:1-10)
In this Gospel of Third Sunday after Trinity we observe the example of Zacchaeus, a rich man, seeking Christ, but being FOUD by Christ instead. We read of another Rich Man on the First Sunday after Trinity who fared sumptuously in this life but died and woke up in Hell. That man’s name is not given since it is not recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life; but the rich man of whom we read today DOES have a name – Zacchaeus! In the previous chapter of St. Luke (18:18-30) who also remains unnamed because he left our Lord just as he found Him – unsaved and unnamed. It illustrates how we may be called by our names before we ever knew Christ intimately. It demonstrates that regardless our backgrounds, or our stature, we can be received by Christ if we are zealous in seeking Him. We may be short of stature, short of faith, short of honor, and short of joy, but the Lord can remedy every shortcoming.
We should note some characteristic that identify Zacchaeus before proceeding: 1) he was a man of short stature; 2) he was rich; 3) he was not well liked among the people for he was a chief publican, or tax collector. He held the same respect of the people as a red-neck bar keeper; and 4) he was persistent in all that he did. That probably explains why he was a chief tax collector.
Zaccheus was short – and he was not a part of the crowd. Zaccheus was a serious kind of man. He had an important position as head of the tax collectors. But when a rumor came to his ears of a man who worked miracles, there was planted in his heart a burning desire to find Him. The rumors were used of the Holy Ghost to draw Zaccheus to Christ. Jesus already had Zacceus in mind before He came to Jericho. Now, strangely, Zaccheus has Jesus in mind. He did not know much of Him, but had heard only rumors; but the sheep hear the Voice of the shepherd. “3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” John 10:3 (KJV)
Zaccheus had only heard of Jesus even though the fame of Jesus had spread far and wide. He had what seemed like only a casual interest in seeing Jesus. Great forest fires, however, are started with a single spark; and the curiosity of Zaccheus led to his eternal salvation. From port to starboard, this was the unseen work of the Holy Ghost in the heart of Zaccheus.
Before meeting Jesus, it would have been unthinkable to Zaccheus to repay those of whom he had exacted too much tax, but he was fundamentally changed by his finding Jesus – even if from atop a Sycamore tree. How man would expect to have a life changing experience from the branches of a Sycamore tree escapes logic? Zaccheus had to lift his vision upward by climbing the tree so that he could come DOWN at the command of Jesus.
“Today” (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 2 Cor 6:2 (KJV)
“I MUST!” Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. John 3:7-8 (KJV)
|mevnw Meno (men’-o); Verb, Strong #: 3306
- to remain, abide
- in reference to place
- to sojourn, tarry
- not to depart 1a
- to continue to be present 1a
- to be held, kept, continually
- in reference to time
- in reference to place
- to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
- of persons, to survive, live
- in reference to state or condition, to remain as one, not to become another or different
“THIS DAY!” A day to be remembered forever – even beyond the grave. THIS day is the only day we truly possess for yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is not assured.
He was drawn by an invisible power to Christ. That power was the Holy Spirit, though Zacchaeus considered his motive to be one of outright curiosity. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature If you have come to Christ, it is likely that you came by the same power.
There were many, many people thronging Christ, so many that Zacchaeus could neither see over their tall heads, or break through the crowd. Quite often those who seem nearest to Christ seem to be the very ones that prevent others from approaching Him. It is true in the ordinary walk of life, and it is true in many churches.
People who are short learn to overcome that handicap through years of effort. Actually, medical science informs us that shorter people live longer, but that is not a part of our focus. Zacchaeus was determined to see Christ, and he would do whatever was necessary to accomplish that purpose. He had heard many stories and rumors about this miracle worker. He may have doubted them, but he had to see for himself! I wish more Christian people would not simply allow their starving souls to be fed by one sermon on Sunday, but would want to see God’s mysteries, and discover them, for themselves through diligent study.
What could poor Zacchaeus do? If he lived in modern America, there would probably be a government answer to overcome his handicap. Perhaps every sycamore tree would have a ladder, or streets would be lined, according to city ordinances, so that there were banks on either side upon which short people could walk and see as well as every body else. But the American socialist model had not reached Jericho, and Zacchaeus had no such provision. He must find a solution on his own….and he did!
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. Short legs can often run faster than long, gangly ones if the drive and determination are there. Zacchaeus had become quite clever in his thinking after a lifetime of having to overcome his little handicap. Sometimes the thing that we consider to be a handicap turns out to be a blessing. Zaachaeus assayed the direction the multitude was moving and ran ahead to a sycamore tree that the Holy Ghost had conveniently placed there many years before the need of Zacchaeus arose.
Zacchaeus was not considered a good man by anyone. He was not only shorter than most men were, but he was lower than most in character as well. If you are in low places most of your life, you learn to rise above the common crowd. This Zaccaeus did. If you are low, the only way to move is UP. Zacchaeus went UP into the sycamore tree. Now he could see well, and even better than those who flocked about Christ. He was satisfied just to be able to see Jesus. The fact that Christ would be dining in his house that evening never crossed the mind of Zacchaeus. Many sinners awake from bed in the morning never realizing that their evening meal will be with Christ!
5 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. I would have liked being a fly on the limb of the sycamore tree to see the face of Zacchaeus when Christ stopped beneath him and looked up at him. Perhaps he expected a reprimand for the dreadful life he had led. Certainly, he did not expect Jesus to call his name. How would Jesus know HIS name? How, indeed! We learn here that regardless of our astonishment, when Jesus calls us, we respond with haste. The next breath is not a guarantee. We must act while light remains. We learn, too, that, although we have put ourselves up higher up in prayer to see Christ, we must descend from our high station with humble obedience when we go before Christ. “Come down,” is the command Christ gives all who would follow and dine with Him.
What amazement to Zacchaeus that Christ would abide in his house that day. When Christ comes into our hearts, He does not make a temporary visit – He comes to Abide (live there forever).
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. Friend, have you descended from your high perch and received Christ joyfully as this poor sinner, Zacchaeus, has done?
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. Don’t we always have the murmurrers among us in the church. They judge the dress, the hair, the shoes, the walk – everything of a stranger who comes into their company. Had they, themselves, not been grievous sinners, and were not most of them still in that condition?
8 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 false accusation, I restore him fourfold. The Roman law required this compensation for fraud, but the Jewish law required only the principal plus one fifth. Zacchaeus determined to satisfy both laws. This was not asked of Zacchaeus by Christ, but Zacchaeus was living by a different standard now – it was his desire to undo as much wrong as it was possible for him to do. He now had Christ in his home, and in his heart.
Now follows a beautiful expression of the covenant relationship that exists in the family of the man or woman who follows Christ: 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Salvation had come to the whole HOUSE of Zacchaeus – including the children. Zacchaeus may have been a lowly publican, but he was now fully a son of Abraham both in body and soul, for all who receive the Seed of Promise (Jesus Christ) are the true sons and daughters of Abraham and entitled to all rights and privileges of the Israel of God.
10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Lost when? When they opened there eyes in birth, and all since the fall of Adam in the Garden at Eden. Christ comes to save that which was lost, and He is there for the most dreadful of sinners, and even those who presume themselves to be morally good. What of your soul, friend? Have you climbed a tree just for a glimpse of Christ, or have you folded your Bible after worship last Sunday and just now opened it for a glimpse? Zacchaeus got more than a glimpse, and so will all who earnestly seek Him!
“Prenez en Gré”
In Christ Alone during TRINITY,
† Jerry L. Ogles, D.D.
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide & Chancellor, Faith Theological Seminary
“Metus improbo compescit, non clementia.” – Syrus, MAXIMS: Fear, not kindness, restrains the wicked!
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer – HOLY SCRIPTURE:
“If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God’s Word; and if we be uncertain of God’s Word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or a synagogue of Satan.”