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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 19:1-10: To Seek and to Save the Lost
Luke 19:1-10: To Seek and to Save the Lost Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 September 2013

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After studying the Gospel of Luke to this point, a person might conclude: ‘Biblical discipleship is too costly.’  I mean Jesus expects a lot out of His disciples.  He wants them to forsake all and follow Him.  He wants them to be on mission.  He wants them to turn away from their sins.  He wants them to give up their idols, all their idols, and worship Him alone.  As we saw last week, He even wants us value Him above all things, including our money and resources.  When you look at discipleship in this way, it might make you think: ‘Who is really going to give up all they have to follow Jesus Christ?’

One person who chose to do that is found in our text this morning.  His name is Zacchaeus.  He stands as a contrast to the rich young ruler and as a great example of someone we might not expect to follow after Jesus.  In our time together this morning, I simply want us to look at his story and then come back and identify some lessons we can learn from Jesus’ ministry to him.  Let’s begin with his story.

A Brief Summary of the story of Zacchaeus

The story takes place in Jericho.  Jesus has just healed the blind beggar outside of Jericho and is now making His way through the city and onto Jerusalem.  As He is traveling through, we are introduced to Zacchaeus.  Look at verses 1-4.  We need to note a few things about Zacchaeus.  First, we are told that he was a chief tax collector and that he was rich.  Just like the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus had lots of money.  He was wealthy.  Likewise, since he got his money as a tax collector, he was the lowest of low.  His confession later makes it clear that he had stolen from people and the crowd’s attitude towards him makes it clear that he was not liked.  Second, he was short and could not see Jesus over the crowd.  I feel his pain, it is tough being short sometimes.  Finally, Luke tells us that he was determined to see Jesus.  He was even willing to do something undignified to get a glimpse of the Savior.  He was willing to run ahead of the crowd and climb a tree.  Such action reveals his determination and teaches us that we should never let our dignity come between us and Christ.  It’s simply not worth it.

So Zacchaeus is hanging out in a tree waiting for Jesus to come by.  What happens next?  Look at verse 5.  Jesus saw Zacchaeus and sought him out.  He told him that he was going to stay at his house.  In fact, Jesus said: I must stay at your house today.  The word here is the divine imperative.  Zacchaeus may have climbed the tree, but God was seeking Him out too.  There was no reluctance on Jesus’ part.  It was necessary for Him to go and stay with this man.  He was seeking him out with His love and grace.  How does Zacchaeus respond?  Look at verse 6.  Zacchaeus was glad to have Jesus come to his house.  We already see in his response the spark of faith and belief in Jesus.  Something is happening to Zacchaeus.  The Savior of the World is coming to stay at his house and he could not be happier.  But not the crowds.  Look at verse 7.  Once again, we see that many still had no idea why Jesus had come.  How could such a great teacher be hanging out with a sinner like Zacchaeus?  It made no sense to them.

Luke then tells us just what this encounter meant to Zacchaeus.  Look at verse 8.  Just being in the presence of Christ convicted Zacchaeus about his reaches.  He immediately decided to give half of what he had to the poor.  What about those people that he had stolen from as a tax collector?  He would restore what he stole and more, fourfold more to be exact.  Jesus tells us what is happening to Zacchaeus in verse 9.  Look at that with me.  Is Jesus teaching us that if we give our money we can earn salvation?  No, the point is that Zacchaeus has become a changed man because of his encounter with Christ.  His belief in Jesus changed him.  And his repentance was not just an attitude or words spoken to the crowd.  No, his repentance was evidenced by his willingness to give his money to the poor and restore what he had stolen.  Unlike the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus was willing to walk away from his wealth.  He was willing to abandon it all to follow Jesus.  This is what can happen in a sinner’s heart when they come in contact with Jesus. 

Jesus came to reach people like Zacchaeus.  Look at verse 10.  Jesus came to save sinners.  He came to seek them out, to stay in their homes, and to pay for their sins at the cross.  He doesn’t care about popular opinion or who people think He should relate to, Jesus came for sinners.  And that is good news for me and you.  We might think that we are a good person, but we are no better than Zacchaeus.  We have been greedy, we have stolen, we have cheated, we have lied, we have lived with no regard for God and little love for neighbor.  And the only hope we have is for God to send us a Savior, one to pay for our sins and give us victory over the death we deserve.  And when Zacchaeus climbed that tree that day, He saw the very One who would do just that.  And it changed him forever.  Just like He will change us if we turn from our sins and believe in Him.

Lessons from the story of Zacchaeus

So what can we learn from this story?  What lessons for discipleship do we see?

First, we must seek out the least-likelies.  Nobody thought Zacchaeus would be a very good follower of Jesus.  He was too far gone, too much in love with his money, too wicked.  Yet, the Savior sought Him out and spent time at his house and called him a true son of Abraham because of his faith.  Everyone else counted him out, but not Jesus, He called him out.  He called him to leave his life of sin and Zacchaeus obeyed.  One of my commentator’s writes: “No one thought Zacchaeus had much interest in spiritual things, but in fact he wanted to know more about Jesus.  Some of the people we know have the same interest, whether we suspect it or not.  If we talked to them about Jesus, they would engage the conversation.  If we invited them to church, they would visit…When will we help them see Jesus?” 1

So who do you discount in your life?  Who is the person that you think will never come to faith in Christ?  I want you to specifically think of one person this morning that is the most least-likely follower of Jesus.  What is their name?  Do you have it?  Now, I want you to be like Jesus and seek them out.  Begin praying for them even now.  Bring them before the mercy seat.  And then go and tell them the good news this week, believing that God can change their hearts.  Are they in love with sin?  So was Zacchaeus.  Are they hated, or at least disliked, by most people?  So was Zacchaeus.  Don’t delay.  Don’t put it off.  Go to them this very week and call them to faith in Jesus, the One who came to seek and to save the lost.  

Second, we need to be confident that God can change the heart.  Why is it that we believe that certain people will never believe in Christ?  Why do we often feel like it would be a waste of our time to share with them?  Because we do not believe in the power of the gospel.  This may be a little bit harsh because we do believe in the power of the gospel, but sometimes we forget just how powerful it is.  The story of Zacchaeus reminds us.  Jesus made a shocking statement after He had talked with the rich young ruler: How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!  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 (18:24-25).  In chapter 19, with the story of Zacchaeus, we read about a camel going through the eye of the needle.  Zacchaeus was rich.  He was a wealthy man and it seemed impossible for him to be saved.  But as Jesus went on to say: What is impossible with God is possible with man (18:27).  In the salvation of Zacchaeus we are seeing God do the impossible, namely save a rich man. 

Such a story should build our confidence in God and in the power of the gospel.  And such confidence should lead to bold proclamation.  Today, when we head out to the park, we may be tempted to think that nothing much will happen.  After all, we have been to this park before and we have perhaps shared the gospel with some of these people.  But if Jesus were here, I think He would say to us: ‘O ye of little faith, believe that I can do the impossible, believe that I can change the hearts of men.’  May we be bold today in our proclamation of the good news.

If you are here this morning and you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then I have great news for you: The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.  Jesus can do the impossible. He can save a man like Zacchaeus.  And He can save you.  How do I know?  Because the grave could not hold Him.  After He gave Himself for your sins on the cross, God demonstrated His acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice by raising Him from the dead.  The empty tomb lets me know that you can be forgiven.  Maybe you look at yourself like a Zacchaeus.  Maybe you feel like you are one of the least-likelies to follow Christ.  Perhaps that is true.  But even so, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.  If that is you this morning, then you need to turn from your sins (like Zacchaeus did) and believe in Jesus as your Savior.  Trust in Him today.

If you are here this morning and you are a believer in Christ, then I continue to encourage you to be a faithful follower of your Savior.  Jesus was willing to go to the least-likelies.  He was willing to go to the ‘hard places.’  Thus, you need to be willing to do the same.  Join with us in the park tonight and be bold in your proclamation of Christ.  Whoever you thought of earlier as a least-likely, begin praying for them.  Pray for them each day this week.  And share the gospel with them.  Make an opportunity to talk with them about Christ.  They might be waiting for you.  They might be wanting to know more about this Jesus character.  They might be desperate for someone to tell them how their sins can be forgiven.  And guess what?  You could be the very one to introduce them to the Savior.

In one sense, we are all the least-likelies.  We are all blind beggars and chief tax-collectors.  We are all desperate for a Savior.  We come together each to celebrate the glorious good news that our Savior has come.  He has given Himself for us at Calvary and defeated death at the empty tomb.  May we continue His mission of seeking the lost and proclaiming salvation through faith in Him.  Amen.

1 Philip Graham Ryken, Luke, Vol. 2 REC (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), p. 306.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 October 2013 )

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