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Outcasts #1: Zacchaeus

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This evening lest start right off in the word of God. in Luke 19:1-10
Luke 19:1–10 NKJV
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Zacchaeus: The Outcast

I want to talk to you about outcasts. People in the Bible who shouldn’t have been there… or at least who’s stories should have been vastly different.
People who were not part of the religious establishment. They were not bishops, pastors, or prophets. the were not board members or deacons, the were not good upstanding church going salt of the earth people. in fact they were just the opposite
These are people who were shunned and despised by the church and by people in general. they were people who no one wanted anything to do with be cause they were sinners, cheaters, adulterers, and the like. They were the low of the low, the unclean and untouchable.
and if people had had their way… if the church had had their way. the stories of these people would have been very different.
If the religious of the day had had their way. the stories of most of them would have read like this in the Bible:
“And so Jesus came and saw, such and such a person. He saw that they were a sinner and He ordered them stoned, or killed, such as the law demanded, and then Jesus moved on..”
the problem was however that this isn’t the way the Jesus works. Jesus in stead not only embraced the rejected and the outcast. he seemed to seek them out and showed them even more favour than those who were followers of the law and the other religious people of the day.
Jesus should have been spending his time with PHarisee’s and saducees. he should have been spending his time in temples, and the homes of the religiously upright. He should have been bestowing favour on the temple goers and others who followed the Law of Moses.
Over the next while we’re going to explore the stories of Zacchaeus, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, a leper, and the thief on the cross, and look at what Jesus is trying to tell us through these people.
Tonight we will start with Zaccheaus. a wee little man who had a problem… He was short, but that wasn’t really the full extent of his problems.
as we read in the passage Zaccaeus was a chef Tax collector… and no body likes a tax collector. but even this was a special case that made him especially hated. because he was JEWISH chief tax collector… and this made him especially hated amongst his people because he had taken the side of and was working for the Romans who had conquered and occupied their lands.
he was literally working for the enemy. and not just working for them he was climbing the corporate ladder, and excelling at his Job. and that still wasn’t the extent of his troubles. because not only did he take taxes for the Romans, but he was known for taking a bit for himself!
He was a cheat.
A traitorous cheat, to boot
and this made him a despised traitorous cheat to the people around him.
From the point of view of the Jews and the religious establishment, he was a sinners, sinner. he deserved no better than to be smote by God.
So here we have, hated tax collector Zaccheaus, who is too short to see through the crowds when possibly the most famous person in ages comes to his town… and you have to know that the people around were probably not helping him any
It’s kind of like he came late to the stampede parade.
And so he takes action and climb a nearby tree so that he can get a view of Jesus.
and so now comes Jesus. now think about this… Jesus was not popular with the religious establishment either… but he was better than a tax collector. The crowds are around him. it’s a busy market day. there’s noise and bustling, and yet somehow the calm of the holy spirit still prevales. and just like when Prophet Kevin Leal picks one of us out of the crowd… Jesus see’s Zaccheas, clinging to a tree. and he does the unthinkable!
Most other religious leaders would have called him out. “Look up there everyone the sinner Zacceaus, clinging to a tree cause he’s too short to see me through the crowds!” and the crowds would have laughed.
Some religious leaders would have stopped and made an example of Zacceaus “ You there sinner in a tree! repent of your evil ways!” and the crowds would have cheered him on...
Some religious leaders would have simply ignored him. opting to spend their time and effort on those who already believe.
But Jesus… crazy, rebel, ground breaking, out of the ordinary Jesus, does something that no one would have done.... He says “hey Zaccheaus! come on down from there… you can make me lunch from that tree!” (That’s the pastor Mike paraphrase)
And this i the point I want to make here.
Jesus MEANT to be a culture changer. He knew who this guy was
He knew he was an outcast
He knew he was someone the the religious people wanted nothing to do with.
and yet he went to him, this sinner…
this un holy,
un clean,
un worthy guy
and he said “let’s do lunch, lets live a bit of life together”
He Said to him “I accept you. not because you deserve it, but because I desire that non should perish”
So What can we learn from the story of this outcast?

#1 The Outcasts Are Looking For Us

rather they are looking for Jesus.
Sometimes they know it… sometimes.. often times they don’t
but they are looking for Jesus.
and frankly we’re it. We are literally the only Jesus that some people will ever meet.
We need to realize that

This world NEED Jesus, WANTS Jesus, and is LOOKING for Jesus

Satan has the world thinking that they can find what they are looking for in a thousand different things.
They are looking for Jesus in alcohol ...because Booze makes them feel good (for a time)
They are looking for Jesus is sexual immorality… because that makes them feel good (for a time)
The are looking for Jesus in Subjective morality because it helps them justify the things that they do...
They are not looking for Jesus in Churches, because we make them feel bad. We make them feel like they don’t belong, we make them feel like they are less than and not worthy of Jesus Love because we don’t like what they represent, or what they are doing.
We forget that We were once sinners too… we forget that we are STILL sinners and the only reason we are going to heaven is because Jesus forgave us… if we remembered that everyday, it would probably help us meet the outcasts with a bit more humility.
because at the end of the day. we are not Christians in our Boat, and Sinners in theirs.... we are all every one of of us Christian or not on the same boat… it’s the sinners boat and it has one destination.
The only difference between us and them is that we jumped on the life raft… the problem is that once we got on the life raft we forgot how lucky we are to be on it and started to feel smugness towards the ones still on the boat, rather than feeling compassion and working to get them on on our life raft too...
We need to remember that The people of the world are looking for what we are lucky enough to have… and it’s out Job to show them we have it and make it appealing.
Not to shun them for not having it already.
We have the greatest treasure in the world - that being the salvation and favor of the Lord. and it’s our job to display that treasure in a way that makes it look enticing and valuable.
This is a video of the crown Jewels. Look at how well they treat them. They preserve them exactly as they were made. they are clean and cherished and still used by the royal family..
The are shown of at their best and displayed to in such a way that a modern audience can enjoy them and see their value.
No one would go to see the jewels if they left them in a bunch of boxes in the attic and not one would thing they were valuable if they were treated like that too.
Yet this is how some of us treat our Christianity. We hide it away except for when we are at church. or we display the worst parts of Christianity. and then we wonder why? why? no one wants to have what we have.
If we want to show the great treasure that is the life in Christ we cannot show them the worst that we have to offer.
mean spiritedness
and fighting
These are the things that they are already expecting from us
instead we need to show the best that we have to offer the outcast like Jesus Did:
When we show these off, we are showing the best of Christianity. and those who are looking will be enticed.

#2 Outcasts Will React

Those on the outside will react to the Christianity that we show them one way or another.
When we show them the worst that Christianity has to offer people will react in the worst ways.
Shall we recount, the crusades?
how about the Spanish inquisition?
The Salem Witch Trials?
How about Christians and Slavery?
These are examples of the worst that Christianity has had to offer the world. and the repercussions of those examples is people rejecting God all together.
and of course these are Big examples of Christianity gone wrong. and if you study these instances closely you’ll find that really Christianity was simply an excuse for people to be greedy, and power hungry.
But even though these are Big examples the principle is exactly the same. When we show others our greed, our hypocrisy, and our meanness. we push people to reject God
On the other hand the opposite is true when we show the Best of Christianity people flock to God.
Look at people like:
Mother Theresa
Billy Graham
Martin Luther and others
They showed the best that That Christianity had to offer and because of them Many have been saved.
What is the difference?
One group put their wants and desires ahead of the wants and Desires of God. They was their position in the church as a means to gain power, position, and wealth. and because of that view of themselves. God couldn’t move through them and they ended up repelling people from God.
The other group put the wants and desires of God above their own. the knew that anything that they did, and power that they had, any wealth that they could or would accumulate, was solely because of God mercy on them.
They saw themselves imply as vessels to do God will. and because of that view of themselves god was able to work in mighty ways through them
See People do not differentiate us from our religion.
When we show kindness and love, they learn that Christianity is about Kindness and love
When we show charity and acceptance. they learn that Christianity is about charity and love
When we show compassion and grace, they learn that Christianity is about compassion and grace
Look at Jesus in our text. He could have ignored him and walked on, but Jesus knew what the will and desire of God was and so He put himself on the back burner and showed God to this man. and he responded.

6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully

the opposite is of course true...

#3 Outcasts Will Respond

and they will often respond in big ways.
Look again at our text.

8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

So look at this… it would have been reasonable for him to say, “you know what Jesus, i’m sorry, and I’m going to go give back all the money that I’ve wrongfully taken (which by itself would probably have been a massive undertaking… like a car recall), and everyone one would have cheered and been happy, because he did the good thing.
But this guy goes further and - as the youth would say - kicks it old school how old school? Old Testament old.

7 then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged.

so not only does he do the good thing… he does the RIGHT thing by doing what the bible commanded.
The point. When faced with the Love of Jesus manifest through us People WILL respond and they will do so in a big way.
But we have to get ourselves out of the way first. because the problem isn’t that outcasts are outcasts… the problem is we are elitists.
Have you ever met someone who threw themselves out of society? No!
because that’s not how it happens.

People are outcasts because someone CAST them OUT!

The second verse of Luke 19 reads
Luke 19:2
Luke 19:2 NKJV
Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.
So what?! one might ask… but it stood to explain why he was cast out… verse two serves to explain why they were complaining in Luke 19:7
Luke 19:7 NKJV
But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
If Zacchaeus had cast himself out this whole story wouldn’t have happened...
Those who are outcasts are not outcasts by choice. they are outcasts because WE CAST THEM OUT. so as we read this passage. we have to realize..

The problem wasn’t Zacchaeus… The problem was everyone else!

The problem with those we view as outcasts today isn’t them… it’s us!
There is not one person, one people group, one race, one sexual orientation, one school of though that GOD CANNOT WORK WITH.
But, we cannot work with those nigerians… they are so loud.
We cannot work with those North American Kids they are so Rude and Disrespectful (and no they are not… they are just north american)
We cannot work with those LGBT people because they don’t believe what we do.
and of course they don’t! but its not our job to change them BEFORE We accept them.
Changing them is God’s job,
Accepting them is our job
That’s why God simply said “Love your neighbor”
He didn’t say, change your neighbor,
work on your neighbor,
Scold and admonish your neighbor
He simply said… Love them.
and then we leave the rest to God

We need to show the outcast that they are no longer outcasts

So as I close today. if I can make only one point, one thing that you take home tonight and into your week it’s this.
We have to be more accepting of others.
We have to show people… All people that they are welcome here.
WE have to show (SHOW not tell) our young people that they are welcome here
We have to show those Canadians, those people walking by the church right now, that they are welcome here.
We have to show those that aren’t from our country or our tribe, that they are welcome here.
and it’s going to take a change of mind and a change of attitude. we can’t afford to be like the people who complained about Jesus as he accepted those that they wouldn’t
we have to be like Jesus who accepted the lost and the sinners.
Like Jesus who said I desire ALL should be saved.
Kevin Leal spoke to us about loosing our next generation… now let pray about how we’re going to make sure that it never happens!
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