Sunday Sermon 3 November – Zacchaeus son of Abraham

Preacher: Bill Davey

Reading:  Luke 19:1-10

The Gospel Reading

 

Luke 19: 1 – 10    New International Version

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.

 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him,            since Jesus was coming that way.

 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him,           “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at yourhouse today.”

 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone   to be the guest of a ′sinner’.”

 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.”

 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

If we read verse 10 in isolation:  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”   we may think we can dump responsibility for our personal salvation on the Lord and    just wait for Him to fix everything for us!  This is neither responsible, or Christian behaviour ― It is pure error.

There is a vital role for us to play ― to do our part. Remember the Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22: 37 ― 40):  37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.

40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 Earlier this week I received a copy of an article published recently in the New York Times:

The church, as we know it in America, is dying. Fewer and fewer people are participating in weekly services. Younger generations are staying away in record numbers.

“After researching the attitudes of the “unchurched” and the “de-churched” – we’ve identified four frequently cited reasons people avoid church:

1. “You judge me — even before you know me.”

2. “You’re not interested in my thoughts or questions. You
only want to lecture me.”

3. “The church is filled with posers and know-it-alls.”

4. “I don’t experience God at church.”

This morning′s Scripture reading relates the account of Zacchaeus ― a businessman from Jericho, who was determined to see the young rabbli ― Jesus of Nazareth ― for himself!

“What can I do to see, or be close to, (or even encounter) the young rabbi named Jesus?”

Our Biblical account begins in a place called Jericho ― What do we know of this place?

 It involves Zacchaeus and a rabbi called Jesus ― What do we know about these two men?

 And other on-lookers make a significant contribution to the meeting ― What part did they play?

Let us reflect on what the words tell us as we read of this historic event.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

 

2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

Jericho was on the main trade route between Trans-Jordon and Jerusalem.

Refer: Joshua chapter 2    Rahab saves the Israelite spies during their reconnaissance.

Refer: Joshua chapters 5 and 6  Divine support, from the Captain of the Host, takes the City.

 

Note: 

Divine intervention and support made this the first successful conquest by the Israelites in the Promised Land. (The Lord together with His People can do exploits beyond comprehension).

 

Zacchaeus was a resident in Jericho, a chief tax collector and a wealthy man! He is a publican (public servant), a contractor working for the Roman  authorities. As such he is probably disliked, even despised by other residents asa traitor or collaborator with the army authorities of the day. He is purposeful,  prosperous, dignified and resourceful man, allbeit a little short in stature.

Jesus is reputed to bless people with his words, heal some of them,including women, and lepers, and the blind. He is also reported as havingraised Lazarus from the dead. And today he is just passing through town. The onlookers just made it difficult for Zacchaeus to see this young rabbi.

3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.

 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

 

Zacchaeus wanted to see, to identify (or even encounter) for himself the young rabbi Jesus. However he could not see Jesus because of the crowd. Being resourceful, he abandoned his dignity and ran ahead of the crowd and  climbed up a big tree ― Nothing was going to stop him seeing the young rabbi.

5   When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at  your house today.”

 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

We now know this young rabbi as our Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the all-knowing Son of Man (Son of God). Re-read verse 10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Jesus not only speaks with Zacchaeus, but also offers to accept his hospitality and visit the home of this chief tax collector.

Zacchaeus almost falls out of the tree, when Jesus calls him by name.  Zacchaeus is elated and immediately (with alacrity – immediately) comes down from the tree and welcomes the young rabbi.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ′sinner’.”

Please take notice of the response of the onlookers ― All the people began to mutter and complain about the wisdom of the rabbi ― what an attitude ― no further comment!

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.”

 By comparison, check out the effect this encounter had on Zacchaeus. He is a changed man, changed from the inside out. He is a transformed new-man ― joyous, repentant and ready to put any past wrongs right ― and even to do that with generosity.     

This encounter leaves Zacchaeus personally full of the Holy Spirit of Jesus and of God the Father

 “Look Lord! Here and now (Behold) ….. I will give ….. I will pay back.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

 

In summary

 Zacchaeus wants to see this young rabbi, (i.e. to meet, to know or to encounter Jesus).

 We read how this young rabbi Jesus (now known as our Messiah) demonstrates loving acceptance of Zacchaeus and gives him back his Jewish identity. (Verse 9).

 Zacchaeus is transformed, from within, by meeting with our Lord personally.

 Finally ― Is this really sound Bible teaching?

 We close with these two quotes, from the Living Word: one from each Testament ― B.C.E. and C.E.(i.e. for us oldies they are the Old and New Testaments respectively).

Proverbs 8: 17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek mefind me.”

John 14: 21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father,and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

The same truth is open to each one of us every day of our lives ― May I ask when you last enjoyed a personal encounter with Jesus?

For anyone who feels challenged by these words ― please trust the Lord,
as Zacchaeus did, and allow someone to pray with you immediately. Talk to somone and allow Jesus
into your home and heart.

Amen.

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About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on November 3, 2013, in Sunday Morning Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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