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How about the other guy?

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MPP : God desires all to come to him, even people we don’t like, so go forth and love even the unlovable

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Sermon Title : How about that other guy?
190908 luke 19:1-10
Occasion : Youth Service
31 May 2019
Location : Agape Hall - PLMGS
MPP : God desires all to come to him, even people we don’t like, so go forth and love even the unlovable
17:22
Good morning,
📷 📷 📷
Can I have a show of hands how many of you have seen the Avengers Endgames or the Infinity Wars?
Ok, maybe it’s easier to ask who hasn’t seen the Avengers Endgames or the Infinity wars?
If you are planning to watch it, and haven’t watched it? Sorry guys, but I’m going to give a few spoilers in my sermon...
But you know what?
Actually it’s been five months since the show came out and according to the movie etiquette as promulgated by the very authoritative website called www.thespectrum.com,[1] you are allowed to talk about the plots of a movie 2 weeks after the movie had been released, so even if I’m sharing the whole plot here, officially, I’m not considered spoiling the show anymore, it is just sharing something that is already supposed to be open knowledge..
In fact, someone among us already wrote an article about the movie and how you can draw Christian values out of it... So, I’m not the first person to reveal the story line in our community...
So I am legally absolved from any hurts you mean feel, but if you need any counselling, you can always come to me...
Also, with regard to the author of the article, I wouldn’t mention Caitlin’s name so as not to embarrass her...
Anyway, in case you are not familiar with the storyline,
there is this grow of super heroes that are protecting the world as we know it, earth,
under what is called the “Avengers” initiative and in the two movies, Avengers: Infinity War and End games,
there is this purple guy that unlike the purple dinosaur, Barney, is not quite as friendly and he has this idea that the world is over populated, and his solution was to try to remove half the population of the world...
And how did he intend to do this? <take gauntlet>
He went round the universe to gather six gems called the infinity stones and with the stones,
And in the last scene of the infinity wars, he managed to do just that and with a snap of his fingers, half the universe disappeared, turned to dust and simply blown away...
I’m sure many of you were angry with Thanos after watching the infinity wars, and if you were angry,
You were not the only ones,
Pinterest had a page to gather all the hate mails,
Facebook went alive with all the comments,
There is even a quiz to test how you can write a hate mail to him
And Thanos even came on this website to try to defend his actions... (https://mashable.com/2018/05/03/thanos-guest-post/)
There is a chance that he was probably one of the most hated fictional character at least during that period of time...
Because of the way he killed so many people...
Is there a Thanos in real life?
Well, I say, there are many Thanoses in real life...
Perhaps not in the exact form and looks, but there are many people in the world that we love to hate…
There are people like Thanos who destroy many lives,
They are the terrorists in our world who like Thanos,
Have very strong way of thinking and want to create a world that is aligned to what they think the world should be like and are using terror to get it their way…
Another group of people that people love to hate are people who are governing their countries in very oppressive ways…
And such countries include North Korea where Kim Jong Un is always threatening of using his nuclear bombs,
Are persecuting Christians and starving his own people
Iran where Hassan Rouhani is likewise terrorising the region and making many people in his country suffer…
These are all people who are causing lots of pain in many people’s lives,
and are people that many of us love to hate…
let me make this perfectly clear…
I don’t think what they do is correct…
I don’t condone their actions,
They shouldn’t continue in their actions,
And if possible, their actions and behaviour should be stopped…
But can you imagine with me,
What if these people come to know God and change their lives?
Instead of snapping his fingers to destroy life,
Can you imagine what good can be done if Thanos were to use the gauntlet to save and create, instead of destroying?
Can you imagine what good can be done if the instead of using their political powers to cause pain, suffering and fear in the region and in the world,
Kim Jong Un and Hassan Rouhani use their powers to do good…
Can you imagine how different the Middle East and the Korean peninsula would be?
This, dear friends, is what God’s message to us is…
This is not a message of God’s kingdom coming down to earth as if it’s something from outer space…
It’s a message of as God came to earth through the person of Jesus Christ,
As the rightful king of the world,
The world is transformed one person at a time…
And this is how we are to bring in the kingdom of God…
You see, I think all of us are aware of our mandate by God to spread the good news,
To let people hear the Gospel…
To let people hear the fact that Jesus Christ came to earth 2,000 years ago to die on the cross for our sins…
To let people hear the fact that God loves us and desires to have a relationship with everyone of us…
We all know the Gospel and know that we need to share it…
But you know what’s the problem?
Many of us have this idea that this good news is only for our good friends…
It’s like we are now a member of a very special and exclusive club, of which, only a few people can join…
Only people who are good enough to join this club…
Pass some sort of entry criteria can join…
Only our friends can join, but not people who we have difficulty with…
So, only the good people can go heaven…
We are giving them what is rightly theirs and we helping them find their ways, while those who are horrible deserve to go to hell…
Friends, this is not the complete Gospel!
The gospel is for everyone...
We all need to come back to God and we all need to repent of our sins
And everyone are just as deserving of the Gospel and the chance to turn from their past and come back to God!
says that “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”[2]
And when the bible says “all”, because there is no qualifier, the bible means “all”
Not “all the good guys only” or not “all the people with good grades” or not “all those who are from PLMGS”
But everyone…
Even those people who treat us so badly and we love to hate…
and this is the message behind this story that we read about in this few verses that we are meditating on this morning…
which is taken from
let us now read the word of God together….
19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.
4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
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.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” [3]
This is the word of God…
So who is this Zacchaeus and why is he so hate by the community?
Well, you see, during the time of Jesus, Israel was under Roman rule and all the people in the Roman empire had to pay money… taxes… to the Roman authorities to allow them to have enough money to run the empire…
<show picture of Roman empire>
But then, the Roman empire was so big, the Roman authorities didn’t have enough Roman officials to go round collecting taxes from everyone…
So what did they do?
They were very clever…
They got the local people to do it on their behalf…
So what would happen is that the locals would offer money to become the tax collectors on behalf of the authorities…
A process called bidding and when selected, they would be given the authority to collect taxes…
But in order to make sure they win the bid and be given the authority to be a tax collector,
They would offer gifts to the senators or governors or prefects, who are in charge of the region are responsible for appointing tax collectors,
Giving them expensive gifts…
So, when these people were awarded the authorities to be tax collectors,
they would of course recover all the money back from the people they collect taxes from…
so, if you were to consider that the people already were struggling to make ends meet,
then you have to pay taxes, which eats into your ability to survive,
then you have this person who charges more money from you than is necessary,
of course you wouldn’t like him too much right?
Then we read in verse 2 of our text today, that not only was Zacchaeus a tax collector,
He was a chief tax collector and he was wealthy…
This means that not only does he extorts money from the people,
He extorts money from the people who extorts money from the people…
Which means that the more money he extorts from the tax collectors under him,
The more taxes the people have to pay to satisfy not only the tax collectors, but the chief tax collectors as well…
And the fact that he was wealthy suggests that this sum that was collected was not a small sum…
No wonder he was hated by the people…
The people saw him as a cheat and someone who threatens and affects their very life itself…
Yet, something very interested was presented in this passage…
Bad as this person was, there was an innate need for him to pursue what was good… Jesus!
This we read in verses 3 and 4 that says “ 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.
4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.”[4]
In fact, so determined so he to see Jesus that Zacchaeus was noted to have ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree…
Now, you must understand that people in the middle east, especially male figures of a certain status do not run…
Slaves run…
Children run…
Animals run…
People who are low class run…
But not distinguished male figures…
They are supposed to stroll slowly, in a dignified manner,
They are supposed to walk around as if their head were unbalanced, tilted backwards…
And distinguished male figures do not climb trees?!
Cats climb trees…
Squirrels climb trees…
Children climb trees…
Not men…
Yet this weird figure, Zacchaeus, was so drawn to Jesus…
He ran ahead, climbed a tree… just to have a peek at this Rabbi that was just walking by…
Friends, this is an indication that all of us have something in us that wants to know God…
That is a void in all of us that only God can fill…
You know, over the many centuries,
There are so many people and culture groups that do not have the chance to hear God…
And you know what they do?
They turn to rocks, and water, and skies, and think that they are their Gods…
They turn to animals and plants around them and think that they are their Gods…
There is just something in all of us that longs for something and someone much bigger than us…
There is a natural longing all of us have for God…
and unfortunately, there are many people out there who get lost looking for God…
they try to fill their void with online games,
they try to fill their void by receiving ‘likes’ or responses in their Instagram, Facebook (wait nobody uses Facebook anymore), Tumblr, Tik-Tok, Twitter…
they try to fill void watching youtube videos…
then there are some older people who turn to really bad things such as taking drugs, smoking, alcohol to try fill their void…
friends, everyone in this room is so fortunate to have heard the Gospel and believe in God enough to have a relationship with God and to be connected to God who is able to deliver us through really tough times…
but not many people have the opportunity to do so…
your mandate as Christian is to offer this God to people who are so much in need of God…
even and perhaps especially so for those people out there who behave terribly,
who bully other people,
who say bad things about other people,
who curse and swear…
any many times they are doing so because they are hurting inside,
they are hurting, they are seeking good…
they are trying to fill this void in their hearts but just don’t know where and how to find it…
your job is to be like a sign-post to show them what it is they are missing in their lives…
your job is to point them to the good that they are seeking…
your job is to show the only thing that can fill the void in their hearts because the void in their heart is a God-shaped hole that only God can fill completely and properly…
And unless the hole had been completely and properly filled by God, they will just be going from one thing to another to try to fill that void but will be utterly dissatisfied and disappointed and in the process, getting them more and more miserable…
They will be like Goldilocks when she went to the house of the three bears,
Not able to find the porridge, or the chair or the bed suitable…
And in the process, they might just continue hurting themselves or others in the process, thinking that the interim solution they found was what they needed…
So the first point I have for all of us this morning is that:

1. People we don’t like seek good and deserve to hear the Gospel as well!

The next thing that is interesting in this passage here is to note how Zacchaeus responded to Jesus when Jesus stopped, looked up at Zacchaeus and invited himself to the house of Zacchaeus…
We read here in verse 8 that he will give half his possessions to the poor and stated that “if” he cheated anybody out of anything, he will pay back four times the amount…
Now this was extremely significant because this reinforces the fact that Zacchaeus seemed to have already some good in him and it just took a little bit of tweaking to allow all the good that had been struggling to come out of him to just explode out of him…
It’s as if there was already a desire to do good and all it took was just a coaxing from Jesus….
and an illustration that I can think of is like a water pipe…
can you just imagine with me…
you and your friends were out in the soccer field and after playing a long time, you are all muddy and thirsty and you and your friends long to have some water to drink…
so you see in the distance, a water pipe and you think to yourself,
wow great!
I can get some water from the pipe…
So you turned the tap on,
Point the end of the hose in your mouth and you know what happened?
Nothing happened…
And do you know why?
You check and you realise that the hose has a kink in it…
No wonder the water cannot come out…
So you go towards where the kink is, undo it…
And what happens?
*ppssshhhhh*
In fact, do you know what is the biblical word for sin?
The more common word used for sin is ἁμαρτία, is associated with missing the mark in archery.
While the less common word is παραπίπτω which suggests losing one’s way (e.g., )[5]
In either word, the idea is pretty much the same, which means,
They both have potential for good, but just that something had happened that prevented them from fulfilling their full potential,
And hence, a way to right it is just to tweak the aim a little bit…
To try to bring them back to what they are supposed to be…
And remember that all of us are created in the imagine of God and God had seen all of us and said that we are all wonderfully and beautifully made by God…
We all carry the breathe of God in us, and we all have the potential to do amazing work for God…
It’s just that sometimes we need to adjust our aim a little to make sure that we hit the mark as God wants us to hit…
And once we have God guiding us, can you imagine how different the world would be?
Just like how Thanos knowing that there was a problem of overcrowding and chose a logical but not the best solution by destroying half of the world with a single snap of his hands,
Because he was misguided by his values,
Without thinking that perhaps a better solution was to use the reality stones to create a reality whereby there is more resources in this world…
Can you imagine how different the world would be if Hitler instead of using his intellect and his charisma to kill millions of people, but to rally people to work together to build?
Can you imagine how different the middle east would be if instead of killing one another and being embroiled with one wars after another, they were to be involved in economic co-operation and allow the fertile lands there to be used for crops?
The second point I would like to extract from this morning’s lesson is:

2. Let us be used by God to harness the good in people once again! Even the people we don’t like!

And my last point this morning is perhaps a little surprising to all of us, which is:

3. We need to be careful not to think too highly of ourselves…

Why do I say that?
Well, if you read the reaction of the people after hearing that Zacchaeus repented and came to accept Jesus…
You realise that they didn’t like the fact that Zacchaeus was asked to host Jesus…
In fact, the word here was “διαγογγύζω” which means to grumble…
Or actually the more accurate translation taking into consideration the tense used here was imperfect, which means they grumbled continuously,
With no end…
That shows that they were excessively dissatisfied with what Jesus did and showed the fact that they didn’t think Zacchaeus was deserving of the grace that Jesus showed to him…
They thought that they were better than Zacchaeus and because of that, instead of rejoicing in the fact that someone who was of the other side, a sinner coming to know the Lord, they decided to grumble against the very person who mattered in the whole scheme of things… Jesus Himself!
They have become like the frog from the pond that because of pride lost everything…
What is this frog I am talking about?
Well…
In a certain pond on one of the farms in the East were two ducks and frog. Now these neighbours were the best of friends; all day long they used to play together. But as the hot summer days came, the pond began to dry up and soon there was such a little bit of water that they all realized that they would have to move. Now the ducks could easily fly to another place, but what about their friend the frog?
Finally it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck, and then the frog would hang onto the stick with his mouth and they would fly him to another pond. And so they did.
As they were flying, a farmer out in his field looked up and saw them and said, “Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it!”
The frog said, “I did …”[6]
And the frog fell to its death…
Friends, do not let your pride and the thought that you are better than other people, even your enemies, cause you to lose what you already have…
The Lord’s invitation for us to come back to Him is for everyone!
Even for the worse of us sinners,
Even for the friends we hate most…
Even for those that we think are least deserving…
Do not let our pride disqualify ourselves from the prize that awaits us…
Instead of being angry when good things happen to others, especially when they come to know God,
Rejoice… for this is what it really means when the kingdom of God is upon us…
That many are coming to know God because of us…
That the values of God is among us…
That is what we really mean when we say the Lord’s prayer…
Thy Kingdom Come, They will be done…
So my friends,
Let us remember that…
People we don’t like seek good and deserve to hear the Gospel as well!
Let us be used by God to harness the good in people once again! Even the people we don’t like!
We need to be careful not to think too highly of ourselves…
Amen!
[1] https://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/arts/is-my-geek-showing/2017/04/04/spoiler-alert-6-ground-rules-talking-movies/99982154/
[2] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), .
[3] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), .
[4] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), .
[5] Leland Ryken et al., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 792.
[6] Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 1100.
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