Jesus Changes Everything
19 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.” (Luke 19:1-9)
In Roman colonies, tax collectors were despised because they collected from the community with the power of the Roman army behind them and kept whatever the could. They were therefore hated as collaborators.
Four things to see in this passage:
1. What it takes to find Christ
Zacchaeus was a prominent man in the community and yet he was willing to go through the humiliation of climbing a tree. Commentators on this passage point out that Zacchaeus would have lost a great deal of dignity to have done this in front of the community he lived in.
To find Christ, a person has to be willing to humble himself or herself. You can’t come to Christ on your own terms- it’s always on his terms.
2. What it takes to see others through the eyes of Christ
A second thing to notice is how Christ saw Zacchaeus in a way that was different from others. In Roman colonies, tax collectors were despised because they collected from the community with the power of the Roman army behind them and kept whatever the could. They were therefore hated as collaborators.
And yet, Christ saw him as someone who was lost and needed finding.
I read a story last week about a store owner in London who got so fed up with the customers coming into his store that he stopped letting them in.
Sohan Singh has banned customers from his grocery store. He told a London newspaper that he was forced to take such drastic action because of people’s bad manners. First, he banned smoking, then crude language, baby strollers, pets and finally customers themselves. Shoppers now must look through the window to spot items they want and then ring a bell to be served through a small hatch in the door. “I have lost business, but I cannot say how much,” Singh said. “I am a man of principles, and I stand by my decision.” (In Flagstaff Live, June 4-10, 1998.)
How quickly people lose sight of their purpose. I remember feeling really angry one time about a t-shirt a guy was wearing at an airport when I was a young pastor. I wanted to confront him and really fantasizes about beating him up! Then I was reminded of how Jesus loved sinners.
Look again at this passage:
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Jesus reminded them of his purpose:
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-9)
Christ has given us the same purpose in the “Great Commission” in Matthew 26:19-20:
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 26:19-20)
3. What it took for Christ to find us
Thirdly, I want you to see what it took for Christ to find us. He came to us. He pursued us. He came to this village of Jericho and found this tiny man who was so despised and hated- and he stopped the crowd and called his name.
There is great symbolism in this.
He comes to you and me in both in a general way and in a particular way. He came to save the whole world but he also came to pursue you as if you were the only person in the world.
John Stott calls the Holy Spirit the “hound of heaven”. In his testimony in his book “Basic Christianity”, he makes this point:
[My faith is] due to Jesus Christ himself, who pursued me relentlessly even when I was running away from him in order to go my own way. And if it were not for the gracious pursuit of the hound of heaven I would today be on the scrap-heap of wasted and discarded lives. (John Stott, Basic Christianity)
4. How Christ changes us completely
Notice what happens to Zacchaeus. His life is so utterly changed that he pledges to give 50% of his income back to the community. Nowhere in scripture does it say to give away 50%. The Bible teaches at least the tithe should be given away. Our lives are to give away as Christ gave his life for us. But real change has come to Zacchaeus.
His heart is directed toward his neighbors
He has given up on his obvious idolatry
He has real concern about pleasing Christ with his life
He becomes radically generous.
All of these things are what happens to a person who has been changed by the gospel.
- How does Christ pursue us?
- Why is it significant that Zacchaeus climbed a tree? How does this relate to the way we are to come to Christ?
- What did Christ tell us to do in the Great Commission In Matthew 26:19-20?
- How does your life reflect this purpose?
- Are there people in your own life who don’t know Christ that you are regularly praying for?
- What are some resolutions you can make this year toward the Great Commission?