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Lessons from the Zacchaeus Encounter

Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The lessons from this story are lessons for our lives. May we observe, learn and live these lessons.
Luke 19:1–10 ESV
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 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.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 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.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Observation #1 - Partially Right about Sin

We see in verse 7 that the crowd that was gathered grumbled because Jesus was going into the house of a sinner. They were right about Zacchaeus, he was truly and certainly a sinner. However, they were partially wrong, as well.
What was the problem with their evaluation? They were wrong in there categorization of sinner. They understood a sinner to be someone that was outwardly involved in scandalous activities.
Zacchaeus was a man who had become rich by partnering with the Gentile Romans in their oppression of the Jewish people. They despised people like him for taking advantage of them for financial gain. He was excluded from the religious and social life of his people. He was not a faithful Israelite. He was a sinner.
They missed the reality and depth of sin. Instead of seeing the law as a tool to reveal sin and the need of the Savior, they saw it as a way to justify themselves. From the Old Testament, the were looking for a Messiah King, who would save them from Roman occupation and oppression, but not a Suffering Servant that could redeem from the curse of the law, from sin and from death.
There are clues in the OT that God had more planned than what the Israelites expected.
We are familiar with passages like and , but even in the promise of the New Covenant more is promised than was expected at the time.
Jeremiah 31:31–34 ESV
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Ezekiel 11:19–20 ESV
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Practical Application

We must see our sin biblically or we will never understand our need for Christ as Savior
We must continue to see our sin biblically or we will not grow in becoming more like Christ.

Observation #2 - The Sovereignty of God

For I must stay at your house today - As was mentioned last week, the idea of must is what many commentators call the divine imperative. When Jesus tells Zacchaeus that he has to be an overnight guest, it is understood as a fulfillment of the divine plan of God.
Psalm 115:2 ESV
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Psalm 115:3 ESV
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Psalm 135:6 ESV
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
Isaiah 46:8–10 ESV
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
Proverbs 16:4 ESV
The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Isaiah 46:8
Genesis 50:20 ESV
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Practical Application

We should be comforted that our God is in control and that he has promised to bless us in everything that he has done in Christ.

Observation #3 - The Pursuit of the Savior

In the story of Zacchaeus, one might be tempted to focus merely on Zacchaeus’ seeking to find out who Jesus was, but one question should be asked. Why was Jesus where he was? Why was he passing through Jericho? Why was he on his way to Jerusalem? Why was he in Israel? Why was he on the earth? Why was he in a human body?

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.”

Luke 19:9–10 ESV
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The Son of Man came - He came from God. He came from heaven. Why? To seek and the save the lost. He came to search for and deliver, rescue the lost
Luke 15:1–10 ESV
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “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? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:1-

Practical Application

We owe our salvation to the seeking power of the Savior. May we always remember and worship him alone. May we be humbled.
1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Observation #4 - The Pursuit of Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus did not let any obstacle stop him from seeing who Jesus was.
Did not let any obstacle stop him from seeing who Jesus was.
Verse 4 - So he ran on ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree to see him.
Zacchaeus did not hesitate to obey the command of Jesus to come down from the tree.
Verse 7 - So he hurried and came down
Zacchaeus delighted in hosting Jesus in his home.
Verse 7 - Received his joyfully
Zacchaeus deliberately surrendered his sinful activities in regards to neglecting the poor
Verse 8 - the half of my goods I give to the poor
Zacchaeus definitely sought to make restitution for wrongs done against others.
Verse 8 - And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.

Practical Application

We are always responsible to seek the Lord and be obedient to him.
Acts 17:29–31 ESV
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Isaiah 55:6–7 ESV
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
"The dearest idol I have known, Whate'er that idol be; Help me to tear it from its throne, And worship only thee."
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