A Big Story about a Little Man
ILLUS: My wife and I have had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land on two different occasions. One of the highlights of our trip was to visit the ancient city of Jericho. I have in my office a souvenir - a stone I picked up a few feet from the remains of the city.
As our tour bus was driving through Jericho, the driver pointed out a giant sycamore tree. The driver said, "Legend has it that this was the Sycamore Tree Zacchaeus climbed." I doubt it was the same tree Zacchaeus climbed, but it could possibly be an outgrowth from the roots of the original tree. Who knows?
One thing we do know for certain is that the Jericho today is the same Jericho mentioned in the Bible, and we know that Zacchaeus was a real person who climbed a sycamore tree.
1. What do we know about Zacchaeus? We know that he was a publican. In fact, (vs.2) tells us that he was the "chief among the publicans, and he was rich."
2. A publican was a tax collector appointed by the Roman Government. In order to finance its powerful government, Rome levied heavy taxes on the Jewish people. Publicans were Jews who were considered by their people to be traitors. They gouged the people, collecting more than what was due, and then they would pocket the extra money for themselves.
ILLUS: I reminded of the story about a man on vacation who was strolling along outside his hotel in Acapulco, enjoying the sunny Mexican weather. Suddenly, he was attracted by the screams of a woman kneeling in front of a child.
The man knew enough Spanish to determine that the child had swallowed a coin. Seizing the child by the heels, the man held him up, gave him a few shakes, and an American quarter dropped to the sidewalk.
"Oh, thank you sir!" cried the woman. "You seemed to know just how to get it out of him. Are you a doctor?"
"No, ma'am," replied the man. "I'm with the United States Interna ...
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