Sermon: Seeking and Saving Zachaeus (Luke 19:1-10)

Luke 19.1-10 Click for audio

Seeking and Saving Zachaeus

Luke 19:1-10

Introduction

Lately it seems that the thrust of much of the Gospel of Luke has been our fatal attraction to money.  We saw a Rich Young Ruler who was so attracted to money that he could not release it in order to lay hold of Christ and follow him.  His money was what he worshipped and his devotion to it was so great that he forfeited eternal life so that he could maintain his earthly status.  He left sad because he could not have both the god of mammon and Jesus.

Do you remember what Jesus said to the crowd as the RYR was walking away?

Luke 18:24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!

25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”

27 But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Last week, we learned that many of the things that took place with the blind man were prophesied in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah.  Last week’s account of Jesus healing the blind man was a picture, as it were, of all other healings before.  He healed a helpless blind beggar but not only restoring his sight but granting him salvation…your faith has made you well.  Jesus’ healing ministry pictured physical restoration and spiritual restoration. 

The account of Zacchaeus is also similar in that while last week’s text shouted Jesus is the Messiah who heals. This week’s text shouts Jesus is God, forgiving sin.

Our narrative picks up today as Jesus enters and begins to pass through the heart of the City of Jericho.

Jericho is about ten miles north east of Jerusalem.  Called the city of Palms because of the palm trees and other vegetation.  It’s here about a week before the cross that Jesus finds the most unexpected believer…

If you were to think through these accounts from man-centered thinking your conclusions would all be wrong.

Remember the Pharisee and the Tax Collector?  The Pharisee had all the credentials and all the right answers but it was the Tax Collector who through himself on God’s mercy who Jesus declared went home saved.

From man’s perspective it was the rich young synagogue ruler whom everyone thought highly of who should have been given eternal life.  But Jesus declared that he really had another god altogether which was his money.  We might think that this man wasn’t far from eternal life, but Jesus said his salvation was impossible.  Rich people who love money more than Christ cannot enter into heaven.

Today as we enter Jericho with Jesus and His followers, we see many who look to be closer to salvation than this Tax Collector.  Luke wants to show us that with man, eternal life is impossible but with God, all things are possible, even getting a camel through the eye of a needle.

Please hear God’s Word…

Lk 19:1 He entered Jericho and was passing through.

2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.

3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature.

4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.

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

1. Zacchaeus Seeks Jesus (Luke 19:1-3)

1 He entered Jericho and was passing through.

2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.

3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature.

Luke finds another blind man to introduce us to his name is Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus could see but he just couldn’t see Jesus.

We don’t know much about Zacchaeus.  Luke tells us that he was a chief tax collector.  He was sort of like the foreman or overseer of a group of tax collectors in the city of Jericho.  With this city being a hub city with many travelers and business people going through it everyday, he would have had the opportunity to grow very rich.  The Chief Tax Collectors got a percentage of all the taxes coming into their area.

He was the least likely man to be saved that day.  He was a well-known sinner.  Not only did he have the reputation of a sinner because of his trade, he was the leader of the Tax Collectors…leader of the sinners.

For some reason, which is beyond human understanding, he wanted to see Jesus.  Perhaps he lay awake all night thinking about his life and wondering if this is all there is.  Perhaps he thought, I’m very successful and very wealthy but I still have this empty feeling inside and I know there must be more.  Perhaps he’d heard something about Jesus.

Perhaps Zachaeus had heard about Jesus from one of his fellow Tax Collectors…

Lk 5:30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 

As He traveled, Jesus spent a fair amount of time with these folks.  Maybe Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus through one of his friends.

But whatever the reason, whether mere curiosity or a great need he sensed in his own heart, he had to see Jesus for himself.

What were some hindrances he had in seeing Jesus?  He was small and the crowd large.  He was short and could not see over the people.  However, being determined to see Jesus he runs up ahead where the crowd had not yet formed and climbed up into a sycamore tree.

There were other things working against this man as well.  He was rich.  Jesus had already stated the impossibility of a rich man entering the Kingdom of God.  He was a sinner.  Both these characteristics worked against him as far as seeing Jesus.

God had been working in this man’s heart because sinners do not on their own accord seek Christ.

Romans 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

We’ll see very quickly that He wasn’t seeking Jesus, Jesus was seeking him.

2. Jesus Seeks Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5-7)

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

Zacchaeus was on a quest to find Jesus.  Jesus was on a quest to find Zacchaeus.

Can a person like Zacchaeus be saved?  He’s a ruler, like the rich young ruler…He’s a Tax Collector the very picture of sin…He’s rich and Jesus already has shown the impossibility of the rich entering the Kingdom of God…He is a sinner.  So, what are we to make of this situation and a man who has so much against him?

First, it was Jesus not Zacchaeus who took the initiative to engage in a personal encounter.  Zacchaeus was only hoping to get a glance at Jesus and remain nameless.  However, Jesus looks up and calls him by name.  He didn’t say, Hey you in the tree…   

Instead, our Lord called him by name.  How did Jesus know his name?

Do you know that Jesus knew you and searched for you?

I Sought the Lord…

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found of Thee.

Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm vexed sea.
’Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.

I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou were long beforehand with my soul,
Always Thou lovest me.
Jesus found Zacchaeus.  What to the world seemed like hinderances were not things that God saw as roadblocks.  Our little Tax Collector was a sinner, like everyone here today.
Matthew 9:13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Luke 15:4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The purpose for which the Son of God took on flesh and came to earth and lived was to find and save those just like Zacchaeus.

Who, then can be saved? With man it is impossible but with God all things are possible.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

Jesus says, I must stay at your house today…The reason He had to stay at his house was because He came to save this little man.  Jesus had to stay at his house that day because it was a divine appointment from the beginning of the world that on that exact day Zacchaeus would meet his Savior.

He hurries down the tree and receives Him into his house with joy.

Do you see the opening of Zacchaeus’ heart to believe?  He is being saved.   He receives Jesus with joy.  This is the beginning of the Fruit of the Spirit in Zachaeus’ life.

While salvation was bringing joy to Zacchaeus, the people continued their grumbling…

7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

3.  Jesus Changes Zacchaeus (19:8-10)

8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.

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

Remember the response of the Ruler?  He left sad because he was very rich.  Here, we see the response of a man whose idols are gone and who has met his Savior.

Notice how what Jesus asked the Rich Young Ruler to do came natural to Zacchaeus.

8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

Our new convert wasn’t happy anymore with his wealth.  All his money now meant very little to him.  Jesus had his devotion and worship.

He was following God’s purpose of restitution from the OT.  The issue wasn’t if he had defrauded anyone because he had.  He was a cheat and a thief and an extortioner.  He sinned in order to get wealth and now he’s going to give it away.   Do you see how Jesus has changed him?  What once gripped his affections is now a burden.

Now after He’s come into his home, Jesus declares three amazing things.

He first declares that salvation has entered into this home.  That’s why Jesus had to go there.  It was in this place Zacchaeus would be saved.

Second, He declares that now after Zacchaeus has been saved by grace through faith that he is a son of Abraham.  He had always been a descendant of Abraham but now he is a true son.

Gal. 3:9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.  

Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.  

Zacchaeus has become a true Israelite a true son of Abraham because now he is in Christ.  He believes like Abraham and is no a son.

Third, Jesus declares that it was, in fact, Him who came looking for Zacchaeus.

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

Zacchaeus was one of the lost sheep of Israel who Jesus came to rescue.

Appolos- is the word translated lost.  It caries the idea that like the lost lamb in Luke 15, unless it is found it will be destroyed.  Prefix app- from Appolyon-The Destroyer in Revelation 9:11.  Unless Zacchaeus is apprehended by Jesus and brought back into the fold he will be destroyed.

Appolyon is the name given to a high ranking demon who has charge to destroy and kill.

So, the picture is of a lamb who has gotten loose and wanders of into the night.  While the lamb doesn’t even knows he’s lost there is one looking for it to destroy it and there is another looking for it, the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  Appolyon was unsuccessful that day because Jesus found Zacchaeus sitting up safely in a sycamore tree waiting for Jesus to pass by.  Our Lord, who is searching for lost sheep, spotted one from His fold and that day Jesus restored Zacchaeus into the fold of God.

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found of Thee.

Have you been found by Jesus Christ?  Are you one of His lost lambs wandering in the night not even realizing you’re lost?  If you are lost, you will eventually be found.  Either by Christ or by the Destroyer.  Come to Christ today and be saved.  Perhaps you too are one that He came to seek and save.

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