Sun. a.m. AGCC 1/30/00
TEXT: Luke 19:1-10
INTRO: So many people think that God is hard to find, that He is way out there somewhere in the universe and too busy to notice mankind, much less the individual in the crowd of 6,000,000,000 plus people!
All too often humans have invented gods that meet certain needs, but fail to come to know the true God that can meet all their needs.
ILLUS:Pusan is one of the lesser sun-gods of Vedic Hinduism. He is the shepherd and protector of flocks, the pathfinder for those on a journey, and is particularly called upon to search for lost objects. What a trivial job for a god, finding the lost objects of daily life! The God of the Bible is not concerned with lost objects, but with lost people! -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
The truth is that God seeks out the lost, and He always has His heart tuned into the soul that desires to find Him. So often in our modern world our attention is drawn to so many things that we don't have the time to even think about our soul. The truth is however that nothing in this world can satisfy the spiritual needs of our soul except God.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that the hungry heart to know God will find Christ making a house call! If you really desire to know God He will come and find you, just be sure to be on the lookout for Jesus Christ!
I. LOOKING FOR CHRIST 19:1-4
A. The Barriers 19:1-3a
1. Zacchaeus had everything going against him:
a. He was hated by his own people … the Jews saw tax collectors who worked for Rome as both crooks and traitors to their own kind. They often disowned their own when they became tax collectors.
b. The Romans didn't care much for him either, but they tolerated Jews like him if they collected money for Caesar!
c. He got rich by overcharging people, so he had few if any friends.
d. He was short physically, thus he bullied people by his money since he couldn't stand up to them physically.
2. Money had been his god, but had not brought him happiness.
3. Remember the other rich young ruler that turned away from Jesus sadly because he was so rich and unwilling to change from his god of money to the God of the Universe? Like him, Zacchaeus was curious about spiritual things too.
4. In spite of what some rich people think however, God is not all that interested in wealth by this world's standards … and so Zacchaeus would need to see the God he needed rather than the god of wealth he had served until now.
ILLUS: The other twenty million finalists might as well give up. One of the gold-sticker-laden sweepstakes entry forms and magazine sales pitches that show up just about weekly in most Americans' mailboxes has been sent to God. American Family Publishers sent its computer-generated entry form to "God of Bushnell," at the Bushnell Assembly of God, a church in central Florida. "God, we're searching for you. You've been positively identified as our $11 million mystery millionaire," the form read. The fine print showed the Creator was merely a finalist, but the letter encouraged him to try his luck. "Imagine the looks you'd get from your neighbors ... but don't just sit there, God, come forward now and claim your prize." Bill Brack, the church's pastor, told the Tampa Tribune that he had not yet decided whether the church would enter the sweepstakes. "God already has $11 million," he said. -- Reuters Limited. Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 3.
5. His soul was at stake, and somehow Zacchaeus realized this.
a. Jesus was passing through, it was an opportunity to explore a greater meaning in life than wealth.
b. He would have to overcome all the barriers in his life to get to God.
ILLUS:"A golden bit does not make a better horse." Latin Proverb - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 11793.
B. The Burden 1:3b-4
1. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus … desperately!
a. The hunger in his heart must have been great.
b. He was willing to risk being out in a crowd that despised him.
c. He was willing to climb a tree if necessary to see Jesus since he was too short to see over the crowd.
d. He was willing to search for Christ!
2. Zacchaeus was on his way to discovering the greatest joy of his life.
3. Zacchaeus had discovered that wealth had not brought him joy in life, it had not fulfilled him, it was not the answer to life's needs.
a. So often the rich only discover this so late and never change.
b. Unlike the other rich young man who had come to Jesus however Zacchaeus was searching for Jesus at any cost.
4. Zacchaeus had gotten rich by being resourceful, and since he can't see Jesus through the crowd because of his height he simply climbs a sycamore-fig tree so that he can see Him.
5. Zacchaeus had finally realized what few rich people discover, real wealth is not found in money, the things that make a man rich are free and available … and found in Christ!
a. It doesn't take money to discover real joy and peace.
b. It doesn't take wealth to give you a sense of purpose, it takes God.
ILLUS:In Our Daily Bread, Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. "Why aren't you out there fishing?" he asked. "Because I've caught enough fish for today," said the fisherman. "Why don't you catch more fish than you need?" the rich man asked. "What would I do with them?" "You could earn more money," came the impatient reply, "and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you'd have a fleet of boats and be rich like me." The fisherman asked, "Then what would I do?" "You could sit down and enjoy life," said the industrialist. "What do you think I'm doing now?" the fisherman replied. -- Scott Minnich, Toms River, New Jersey. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.
6. Was Jesus just passing by? Or was Jesus passing through the crowd to find the one heart that was yearning for Him?
a. The language here implies Jesus did not plan on stopping, He was just passing THROUGH Jericho.
b. Yet, Jesus cannot pass by a hungry soul … and He will stop right at the tree where Zacchaeus is sitting, God will never miss the hungry heart, even in a crowd!
II. LIVING FOR CHRIST 19:5-10
A. The Bidding! 19:5-6
1. As soon as Jesus reached the spot where Zacchaeus was He stopped and looked right up at Zacchaeus!
a. Jesus even calls him by name!
b. God knows who you are.
2. Imagine the amazement Zacchaeus felt when Jesus stopped and addressed him by name!
3. Though Zacchaeus was a man with everything most people would want, money, power, prestige, he was also a man with an empty heart in need of God.
ILLUS:Lee Atwater, former Republican Party chairman, said this before he died: "The eighties were about acquiring: wealth, power, and prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth and power and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty." -- Frank Pollard, "Do You Like Where You Live?," Preaching Today, Tape No. 104.
4. Jesus' speaking to him indicates a divine appointment - "Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I MUST STAY at your house today."
a. This has the unmistakable ring of divine appointment!
b. Jesus passed the entire crowd to touch one man's soul!
c. God can still do this today!
5. The reaction of Zacchaeus is quite clear, "he came down AT ONCE and welcomed Him GLADLY."
a. There is no way to miss the joy that Zacchaeus felt immediately!
b. Christ's desire to come to his home was all that he could have hoped for!
c. It is certain no Jewish leader of any reputation would have even stepped foot in a tax collector's home, that Jesus would ask to come shows the love of God in Christ which was far greater than the world's love or religious love.
B. The Believer! 19:7-8
1. Notice the crowd's reaction to Jesus' public declaration that He must go to Zacchaeus' home that very moment: "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'"
a. The crowd cared nothing about Zacchaeus' soul, it may be that many of these people had been taken by the large taxes Zacchaeus had imposed on them.
b. It is certain that they only despised him, no one had compassion on his soul - hence all their muttering here.
c. Why would Jesus even want to go to this man's house? To save him of course!
2. Notice the reaction of Zacchaeus to the crowd … he "stands up."
a. The language here indicates a short man who now squares back his shoulders to take a stand for his new found faith.
b. Zacchaeus the outcast is becoming Zacchaeus the outspoken man of faith!
3. Zacchaeus now proclaims the commitment of his new found faith, it takes action that is consistent with being saved by grace!
a. Zacchaeus declares, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
b. What a statement that reflected a new heart!
c. There is no question as to the sincerity of his faith in Christ, this commitment is made in front of the entire crowd, not in secret.
4. The depth of his commitment to Christ is also shown in the fact that the Old Testament law required for fraud that the amount be paid back plus 20% interest. (see Lev. 6:5 and Num. 5:6) The fact that Zacchaeus was willing to give back 4 times the amount shows a heart willing to go well beyond the law's requirement.
a. He is not only going to give to the poor half of everything he has, but pay back 4 times the amount he had taken by fraud from others.
b. The Old Tesament law required for theft four times the amount returned - see Ex. 22:1. This would indicate that Zacchaeus considered his actions beyond fraud and more like outright theft. He makes no effort to hide his sin or put a softer spin on his previous actions.
c. He wants to obey the Word of God as proof of his sincerity. This should still be the case today when someone gets saved, a desire to obey the Word of God!
5. While the crowd mutters because their ideals of keeping pure from wicked sinners by not interacting with them is shot by Jesus' actions to show this man concern, a heart is transformed right before their eyes!
a. They were concerned about legalistic purity - "don't be in a sinner's home."
b. Jesus was concerned about getting into that home and changing a man!
ILLUS:Quite frankly, I'm sick to death of ideals. I have so many ideals and I've been so frustrated by them, I really don't care for any more. What I'm looking for is a savior--not someone who will just tell me what I ought to be, but someone who will forgive me for what I am, and then with his very love will enable me to be more than I ever believed I could be. It's exactly that that Jesus does. -- Bruce Thielemann in "Telltale Tears" (1986 Preaching Today). Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 115.
6. Real faith has real actions to them!
7. The real test of being a believer is a changed life, one whose behavior actually reflects the character of Christ.
a. There is little doubt that Zacchaeus' confession of faith is genuine.
b. Unlike the other rich young man who left Jesus very sad, this rich young man finds Jesus in his home and in his heart … and with it, much joy!
c. Christ can make all the difference in the world in the human heart!
C. The Benefits 19:9-10
1. Jesus not only declares Zacchaeus a believer, but also declares him to be a true son of Abraham!
a. The significance of this statement is clear, Jews disowned their own kind who became tax collectors, no longer thinking of them as sons of Abraham!
b. Jesus makes clear that no one could be MORE a son of Abraham than this man Zacchaeus who like Abraham "believed God."
c. Jesus thus not only healed his soul, but his standing in society also! Jesus ministers to his need of belonging.
2. For the first time in his life Zacchaeus lived up to his name now - "Zacchaeus" means "PURE!"
3. While the crowd may not have liked Zacchaeus' new found status before God it was precisely why the Lord had come, "to seek and save that which was lost."
4. Zacchaeus had discovered what few wealthy people discover … that real happiness and joy does not come from what one has, but what one gives!
ILLUS:Money will buy a bed but not sleep; books but not brains; food but not appetite; finery but not beauty; a house but not a home; medicine but not health; luxuries but not culture; amusements but not happiness; religion but not salvation -- a passport to everywhere but heaven. -- Voice in the Wilderness. Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 2.
5. No doubt Zacchaeus' whole life changed, and so did that of those around him, from now on he was a man of character and integrity, helping the poor and not just getting rich at other people's expense.
a. The power of God's love is so great it can transform the hardest heart into a heart of tenderness and joy.
b. It wasn't hours and hours of counseling that turned Zacchaeus' life around, it was an encounter with Jesus that turned it around in a moment.
6. What about you? Have you been looking for Jesus? IF you have been, don't be surprised if you hear Him call your name and ask to be in both your home and your heart!
7. Why not discover the power of God's love and grace, He can transform you in a moment!
CONCLUSION: What happens to souls that goes looking for Christ? They will find Christ looking for them! Jesus could find the single soul looking for Him in a huge crowd. Christ's presence in this man's home transformed him and his entire family, God is still in the transforming business. Are you looking for Christ?