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Sunday, February 18, 2018

posted Feb 19, 2018, 5:00 PM by Site Administrator

ZACCHAEUS, COME DOWN IMMEDIATELY

 

Luke 19:1-10

Key Verse 19:5

 

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

 

        First, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately" (1-6). Look at verse 1. Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. Jesus had served God’s kingdom work for the past three years, and all people throughout Israel, came to acknowledge him as a great man of God. He became very popular. Now in his last journey to Jerusalem, as he entered Jericho, so many people welcomed him and cheered on him. The whole city was stirred up. Verse 2 reads: "A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy." The occupation, "tax collector" already shows what kind of person Zacchaeus was - really selfish, betraying his people, giving up his identity as God's chosen people, willing to bear the shame and blame as a national traitor, all for the sake of money. But he was no ordinary tax collector, but a chief tax collector. We can imagine how hard he had squeezed his own people until he was chosen and promoted to be a chief tax collector; he was really a bad person, die-hard, maybe, the worst person in Jericho. Then, he was wealthy. The passage specifically mentions about it, showing that he was really wealthy, not a millionaire, but a billionaire.

 

        This man also wanted to see who Jesus was. Why did he want to see Jesus? It was not because he had a great spiritual desire; it was not because he was seeking the truth wholeheartedly; it was not because he was repentant either. But simply, it was because Jesus, that famous person, was passing through his town. He had never seen him, but heard about him – how he opened the eyes of the blind, how he healed the sick, how he welcomed the unclean lepers and cleansed them; he heard about how Jesus became a friend for the lost and wounded. He also heard that one of his disciples was Levi, a former tax collector – it was unbelievable. No devout person so far had ever done such an act. What Jesus had done was indeed beyond his comprehension. Zacchaeus wondered who this person might be. He would never make his journey to Jesus' place on his own, because he did not have that much desire for him, and he was too busy; simply, he was too mundane. But because Jesus was passing through his town, then, why not? As all people ran to see him, he too came to see who Jesus was.

 

        But, being a short man he could not see him, because of the crowd. So, what did he do? He quickly checked out where Jesus was heading, ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore-fig tree. Probably, he was in his late forties or fifties. At this age, people are not so agile like college students. It was not easy for him to climb up the tree. He fell twice, and finally, came up on the tree, and sat there. How did he look? He looked funny; people might laugh at him. But Zacchaeus did not care; he just wanted to see who Jesus was. Finally, he secured a full view of Jesus – for the first time in his life, he saw Jesus very clearly – his graceful-looking face brought him such peace, and his smile made him happy.

 

        Then, something totally unexpected happened. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Zacchaeus never imagined this! This great man of God, Jesus, knew him and called him by name. Also there were so many influential people in the town who wanted to have Jesus in their houses. But among all of them, Jesus chose to stay at his house. It was such great privilege and honor to have Jesus under his roof. In front of all these people, maybe, several thousand people, Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Jesus' grace was beyond his wildest imagination.

 

        By the way, why did Jesus do so? That's a good question. This man Zacchaeus was not seeking God wholeheartedly; he was not repentant; he did not say, "I will follow Jesus." Instead, this man, only because Jesus was passing through his town, wanted to see him just like all others there, maybe, out of curiosity. But when Jesus saw this man sitting on the tree in his forties or even in fifties, most likely wearing expensive clothes, he understood him. Jesus saw a lot about him. As a good shepherd, he understood his sheep's language very well, even if his sheep did not use a clear language at all, but just "Baaaaaah..." In Jesus' eyes, this man was a lost sheep, looking for a way to come back to the sheep pen, without knowing how and where. So Jesus reached out to him and grabbed him, saying, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Jesus offered him a chance to experience God's grace and thereby, turn to Him.

 

        This passage reminds us of Jesus' grace upon us very well. When we accepted our shepherd's Bible study invitation, we didn't mean that we were repentant; it didn't mean that we were seeking God wholeheartedly. But just maybe, out of curiosity, or maybe, for some other reasons such as hoping to be more intelligent by having some knowledge about the Bible, which is the world best seller all the time. Or, we were just curious, thinking, "How come all these shepherds and shepherdesses are always happy? I want to be happy too." Or, out of desperation, we were just trying one more thing in our numerous attempts for a better life. Our spiritual desire, or our motive seemed so weak and insignificant. But Jesus saw differently; he understood why we were accepting the Bible study invitation; he knew what we really desired. Understanding our language and gestures very well, he stretched out his hand and grabbed us. Jesus offered us a chance to experience God's grace and thereby, turn to Him. He knew us when no one understood us. He is our Good Shepherd who knew us.

 

        "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Until this time, Zacchaeus was just one of onlookers. But now Jesus invited him to a personal fellowship with him. Now Zacchaeus should not remain as an onlooker; instead, he must enter into real personal fellowship with Jesus. For this, the first thing he should do was to come down immediately from the looker's position, and welcome Jesus into his house. Of course, Zacchaeus was so happy and thankful that he did this immediately, gladly welcoming Jesus into his house. When he did this in front of all those people, maybe, thousands of people, he felt like he was 10 feet tall. It was the best moment in his entire life.

 

        This is Jesus' invitation for all of us that we should not remain as onlookers any longer, but we should enter into personal relationship with him; he wants us to have life together with him. Many people come to church and say that they believe in Jesus, but they just watch him from a distance; maybe, they cheer up on him, and even say that Jesus is God. But they hide themselves behind the curtain of the church. Or, they blend themselves among church people, doing church things, never being real to him. But Jesus is not happy with that. Instead, he invites all of us, saying, "John, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." When we accept this invitation and have Jesus under our roof, we come to have real fellowship with him. What kind of relationship do you have with Jesus when he is at your house? Maybe, on the street, Jesus waivers his hand, and together with all people there, you may cheer on him. Or at the church, he delivers a powerful message and you respond happily, saying, "Amen." Yet, in your house, you come to have different relationship with him - very personal and intimate; maybe, you talk to him with mouthful of food, or you ask him very personal questions, or you ask him for some personal guidance, or you play pingpong with him, or you cook dinner for him, and he prepares fruit salad; indeed, in your house, you come to have really personal time with Jesus. This is what Jesus desires. And for this, Jesus says to us, "John, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Zacchaeus came down at once and welcomed Jesus gladly. How do you respond to this invitation?

 

        Jesus says, "Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." They are Christians; they call him "Lord." But how come Jesus is not in them, but outside. Why? It's all because they have closed the doors of their hearts toward him, not allowing him to influence and change them, by insisting their own desires, plans and styles; they just ask him to stay in the church, but not in their life; they ask him to stay in heaven, not in their heart. As a result, even if they are Christians, and even if they go to church, even if they praise him as their Savior, Jesus is still not in them. Jesus tells us, "Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Open the door of your heart and let him come in. He wants to have eating fellowship with you. Let him come in and influence you and change you; have life together with him.

 

        Second, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (7-10). When Jesus came to Zacchaeus’ house, it was great shock to everyone in the town. They said, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" What Jesus did was really sensational – probably, it would cover the front page on the Jericho Times the next day. The holy man of God came to the sinner’s house! But they did not know what amazing things were going on there. Look at verse 8. Let's read this verse together:

 

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." 

 

        

        Through having personal time with Jesus, something amazing happened in the heart of Zacchaeus. He came up with such a wonderful decision to give half of all his possessions to the poor! That must be a lot! And also that must be a big thing for him - giving up half of all his possessions - because money was what he had pursued really wholeheartedly. Until then, money was everything, the most valuable thing in the whole world. But now, after experiencing Jesus' grace, after having personal fellowship with Jesus, he was going to give half of it to the poor. No one asked him to do so; he came up with this decision all on his own. How could he do that? What happened? Or why did he do that?

 

        Jesus' grace upon Zacchaeus was so great and touching. Zacchaeus was really happy and thankful to him. Then, in appreciation of Jesus' grace for him, he wanted to do something so that he could please him and make him happy also. Then, he knew what he should do - something he knew wrong, something he knew he must repent of - his love of money, his pursuit of money. That's what he was determined to do; that's what he proclaimed happily. What could save this chief tax collector from the grip of money? Nothing!! Without God's divine intervention, he would have lived the same life of collecting money all the days of his life. Then he would die with regret, great sense of emptiness and fear of judgment. But when he experienced Jesus' grace, when he appreciated Jesus' grace upon his life, he was set free from the grip of money that he could repent and turn away from the life of pursuing money freely. Jesus' grace saved him from the love of money. This is the salvation we find in Jesus Christ; this is the freedom we experience in Jesus Christ, freedom to turn to God in repentance, freedom to obey God's command, freedom to love God and pursue Him. When anyone experiences God's grace in Jesus and truly appreciates it, there comes true repentance, turning from the life of pursuing the things of this world to the life of loving God and pursuing God's will. This is what we want to see in the lives of all our sheep all the more. Let them come to Jesus and experience his love. They will find salvation and new life in Jesus Christ.

 

Look at verse 9. Let’s read this verse together:

 

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

 

        "Today salvation has come to this house." Zacchaeus never said, "I believe in Jesus," or "You are the Christ." But Jesus proclaimed his salvation. Salvation comes not through performing certain rituals or reciting Bible verses, but through sincerely turning toward God in repentance. So, the term, salvation, shouldn’t be considered as a theological matter, but as a personal matter - whether each person turns to God in repentance or not. Zacchaeus too was a son of Abraham – he, too, was God’s child, promised to inherit God’s covenant together with Abraham.

 

        Finally, Jesus says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost." This statement of Jesus shows the purpose of his coming into the world and what he is doing today – it is to seek and save what is lost. His purpose is not to persuade those who are not willing, but to look for the lost and save them. Then, who are the lost? There were so many people in Jericho, but in Jesus’ eyes, Zacchaeus was the lost – Zacchaeus was the one who had been waiting for God’s salvation, who was ready to accept God’s grace. The lost are those who, with deep sense of problem about their life or eternal life, have been looking for and waiting for God’s help. They are the ones who are willing to open their hearts and accept God’s grace. Those who admit their sins and thereby, are in deep agony, crying out, "What a wretched man I am" are the lost. Those who recognize their lost condition and cry out, "What shall I do?" "Show me the way!" are the lost. While other people just simply toss off that kind of questions and pursue the things of this world wholeheartedly, the lost are agonized by unsolvable problems of life. Simply speaking, they are not satisfied with perishable things of this world – they are misfits in this world; they look for something true and something truly valuable, worthy of their life devotion. Maybe, at first, they are snobby just like the Samaritan woman, scratching their shepherds' pride; or they are so argumentative or defensive just like Nicodemus; or they are just curious about Jesus just like Zacchaeus. But eventually they are the ones who respond to God's grace happily. Jesus looks for these people, and whenever he finds anyone like them, he does all possible things to help them open their hearts and accept God’s grace. In order to find one lost sheep, he is willing to send 100 of his servants. In order to find one lost sheep, his servants come and check out each and every one of all the students – 15,000 at CSUDH, 25,000 students at ECC, 38,000 students at CSULB – saying, "Would you be interested in studying the Bible?" Jesus is the good shepherd who searches the entire mountain for one lost sheep until he finds it. And we are his servants, serving his will, looking for the lost.

 

        Jesus says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." We are very thankful that Jesus sought us and saved us. While we were in agony, while we were crying out for help, he did not leave us alone. We were really in bad shape; we had really serious problems; we had no direction, no purpose and we were dying in sin; we were going crazy because of demons. But we never told anyone about such things; instead, we smiled and studied sincerely. As a result, no one knew us. But Jesus knew us; he heard our desperate cry. And out of love, he came to save us, by sending his servants to us. Sometimes, we were cold to him, sometimes, we were stubborn; yet, he did not give up on us; instead, he sought us continually despite all our worldliness, arrogance and sinfulness. Finally, thanks to Jesus seeking us continually, even we, such stubborn people, such worldly people, such sinful people came to recognize our shepherd's voice, and we found salvation and new life in him. What a wonderful statement of Jesus it is: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Praise Jesus! He is our Savior! He is our good Shepherd who knows us and loves us. Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost.

 

        Today, what is Jesus our Lord doing? Yes, he is looking for the lost, and his heart’s desire is to save them. Jesus is seeking them today. What does Jesus want us to do as his followers? He wants us to seek and save the lost. May we find all the lost, wounded and even demon-possessed on our campuses, and bring them back to Jesus.

 

One Word:       For The Son Of Man Came To Seek And To Save What Was Lost

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