DUNCAN/‘Today salvation has come to this house’
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 6:00 PM
Turn in your Bible to Luke chapter 19:1-10. We are coming to a passage that is very familiar. It's a very simple but profound story of conversion. Remember, in Luke 18 we encountered a rich young synagogue elder who loved money, and, when Jesus told him to give his money away to the poor and come follow Him, he couldn't do it because he loved stuff. You’ll see a very different reaction from the man in this story. I'd like to look at four things with you in this great story.
I. You are Lost and Need to be Found
The first one is simply this: Jesus makes it clear in His dealings in this story that we are lost and need to be found. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, which means that he was not only one who collected taxes himself, but he had people under him. Apparently he skived a little bit off of the top because he tells Jesus at the end of this story, “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” So he's telling you out of his own mouth that he's been unscrupulous. And remember Jesus said, in Luke 18:24, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” He goes on to say that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. And the disciples say, “If this rich religious leader can't get into the kingdom, then who can?” And Jesus’ response is, “It is humanly impossible. But what is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Now, enter Luke 19:1-10, and Jesus is displaying for you a poster child for the impossibility of a rich man entering the kingdom of God, Zacchaeus. Nobody is expecting what happens to Zacchaeus in this story to happen. But here's the deal. We may not have Zacchaeus’ sins, but we are all like him. Apart from Christ we are all sinners and need to be forgiven. Though our sin may not be an inordinate love of money or illegal or immoral business dealings, we've all got our sins, and we are all lost and in need of forgiveness. Jesus is laying that before us in this story.
II. You Don’t Look for Jesus—He Looks for You And that leads us to the second point: you don't go looking for Jesus; He comes looking for you. Now I'm not saying that there aren't people who go through a process of coming to faith in Christ where they wrestle long and hard. But even when that is happening, the very reason that that seeking is there is because something else more profound and prior to that is going on. You see a beautiful example of that here.
Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus. For what reasons we don't know. We just know that he really wants to see Him, and he goes out of his way “to see who Jesus was,” we are told in verse 3. But, when Jesus gets to him in that sycamore tree, Jesus says, “Zacchaeus, hurry up and come on down. I must stay with you today.” Now understand that Jewish people expected that kind of thing from a prophet. Remember when Jesus is talking to Nathaniel in the early part of the gospel and says, “You know, Nathaniel, I saw you when you were under that tree,” and Nathaniel, as white as a sheet, says, “How do You know this?” Well, Jewish people expected prophets to know things like that. And that's exactly what's going on here. This little man is wanting to see who Jesus was, but Jesus was looking for him. When He finds him He calls him by name. That's how it always is. We’re not looking for Jesus; He's looking for us.
III. Jesus Change Your Heart
Third, in this story it is very clear that, when Jesus finds you, He changes your heart. Notice how that's emphasized in the passage in a couple of really interesting ways. When Jesus gets to the tree, He says, not only “Zacchaeus, hurry on down,” but He says, “I must come home with you for lunch today.” At the end of verse 6, we're told the response: “He received Him joyfully.” And then, we're told something of what happens at the meal. At some point, Zacchaeus is up, and he's got to tell Jesus something. “I've given away half of my money to the poor, and everybody that I've ripped off in my life, I'm paying them back four times what I stole from them!” What's Zacchaeus doing? He's telling you that, “What I care about in life has just changed.”
You can't fight a sin that you love by some sort of simple act of willing not to do that thing. You have to have a new affection of greater power that motivates you to focus your desires on that affection rather than on the idol, the sin, the old desire. What we see in this story is the evidence of a new affection in Zacchaeus’ heart. Suddenly now he is on fire for Christ, and he's giving away the stuff that was the object of his old affection.
Now, you remember how Jesus said to the disciples, “It's impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”? In this story, without so much drawing one word of attention to that, Jesus has walked into the life of Zacchaeus and said, “I can change everything in your life.” We see in this passage the changed heart of Zacchaeus.
IV. When Jesus Changes You, It Shows
Luke in particular gives us one specific illustration of this. When our hearts are changed, it shows. Let me show you two parts of the illustration. One is, notice how, in verse 8, Zacchaeus says, “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” Do you think that Zacchaeus was just pulling a number out of thin air? It comes right out of Exodus 22. You see Zacchaeus wanting to do what God has commanded him to do. There is no more powerful evidence of a changed heart than wanting to do things that in and of themselves are pretty hard because you have a new heart.
Specifically, again in verse 8, he says, “Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor.” This passage is proof that Jesus’ theology of possessions was not that Christians have no right to own any of them because, as much as this is—and this is a lot—it's not everything. The point is not the percentage. The point is that the possessions are no longer Zacchaeus’ god. And that point is a transferrable point to all Christians. All Christians are called upon to worship and love God, not worship and love stuff. In this case, Zacchaeus’ liberation from that god is evidenced in giving half of his possessions away.
There have got to be at least some of us that are struggling with finding our satisfaction and our security in that stuff. Jesus is saying to us today that, if that's where you are, you are a sinner, and you need to be forgiven. But there's good news: “I've come here looking for you, and I know you by name.”