Up a Tree
Every time I get on the platform I have to tell that marvelous story of Charles Spurgeon, the nineteen century cigar-smoking Baptist in England. Spurgeon got so big, they built a church around him. He grew bigger and bigger; they built a theological school around him. He was quite sure that the best member of the faculty should teach preaching -- so he did! And he had this lousy habit of asking the seniors to come into the chapel in the last term to do their senior sermon, and the procedure was, they should come forward, mount the pulpit, and be given a sheet of paper of which a name or text was to be preached, and they were to preach straight away (from some Victorian notion of the Holy Spirit -- a lot more heat then light). One day a student came forward, mounted the pulpit and on the sheet was written the word, Zacchaeus. Fortunately the student was conservative enough to have read the New Testament (which can not be said of all seminary graduates). He knew that Zacchaeus was that little man who shimmied up a tree down in Jericho -- the chap from the IRS who had to look over everything.
The student thought for a moment and announced boldly, “My subject is Zacchaeus and I have three things to say. First is: Zacchaeus was a little man -- and so am I! Second is: Zacchaeus was up a tree -- and so am I! And the third is: Zacchaeus heard Jesus say, “Come Down!” and precisely now that is what I’m going to do!”
I keep thinking that’s one of those sermons that might have been ruined by preparation.
Heart of Biblical Faith – Being a Biblical People May 13, 1986
- Spurgeon graphic credit: www.pilgrimpublications.com