Mar 05

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Salvation is one of the sweetest words in the English language. It is enriched even more when we identify from what one is saved. Merriam-Webster gives this meaning: “preservation from destruction or failure; deliverance from danger or difficulty.” Of course, the meaning becomes even greater, as the degree of the danger is increased. If one is merely saved from stumbling, with little danger of being hurt in the fall; then, there is little rejoicing. However, if one is saved from a building that is on fire and one’s life is in danger of being lost; then, when saved there is great rejoicing! Therefore, it is easy to understand that the greater the danger, the sweeter the word salvation becomes!
When the word salvation is attached to the word eternity, as in eternal salvation, it has reached its sweetest state. The word of God is described: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psa. 119:103). This being true of the word of God, how would we describe salvation; as being saved from eternal damnation? Eternal damnation being the worst loss that a soul can experience and being saved from such a loss; well, maybe we just don’t have the to words describe it. But, just a little taste of it would be sweeter than honey to our mouth, for sure!
Jesus at the house of Zacchaeus, who was little of stature, made this announcement: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). So, just what did this mean to Zacchaeus? Zacchaeus was “the chief among the publicans” (verse 2), and at best was not thought of as being very good. First, tax collectors were hated and despised because they were usually fellow Jews who worked for Rome. Just to give you an idea of the taxes (As this is being written we are in tax preparation time.) Judea was in the province of Syria and every man was to pay 1% of his annual income for income tax. But that was not all, there were also import and export taxes, crop taxes (1/10 of grain crop and 1/5 of wine, fruit, and olive oil), sales tax, property tax, emergency tax, and on and on. Then, just to make things worse in the eyes of the Jews, it was actually a Roman official who was ultimately responsible to Rome for collecting the revenue of the province, but he sold the rights to extort the tax to the highest bidders. The text also reveals that Zacchaeus was rich (verse 2) which would not help his being in favor with the folks! With this information before you, take another look at Zacchaeus.
The context reveals the following as Jesus was going to the house of Zacchaeus and the folks were not very pleased about it; the text reads: “they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner” (verse 7). Right or wrong, this is what they thought! It is to this that Zacchaeus replies: “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” (verse 8). So, here is Jesus, on the one hand, he has those who are charging Zacchaeus as being “a sinner;” and on the other hand, he hears the words of self-defense, “the half of my goods I give to the poor; …if I have taken any thing… by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” of Zacchaeus. What does Jesus do?
Jesus does not justify nor condemn the man of “little of stature,” but he announces, “This day is salvation 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.” He introduces them to one of the sweetest words in their language, in any language: salvation! In doing this, he stated his mission into this world, “he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). His death was not just any death, but “even the death of the death.” Upon his cross, he shed “the precious blood,” “as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:19) of our redemption; of our salvation!
How sweet the word salvation! Let it ring throughout the land as we teach the gospel of Christ!

— Frank  R. Williams

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