Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC

Luke 19:1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 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.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Knowing that the cross awaits in Jerusalem, Jesus passes with purpose through the bustling Jericho crowds when his seeking eyes find Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus had wrongfully amassed earthly riches by collecting far more taxes than needed and lived as an outcast among his own people. He possessed an abundance of soul-starving, material wealth but was bankrupt of heavenly things.  Weighed down by his sin and shame, old Zacc knew that he must encounter Jesus for his soul to be set free. But, Zacchaeus was too short to see over the eager crowd of onlookers, and urgently ran ahead to the tree that he knew would provide the needed height to catch a glimpse of Jesus.  

Imagine his delight when Zaccheaus realizes that in his pursuit of Jesus, Jesus is also pursuing him.  With the murmuring crowd looking on, Jesus treats Zaccheaus like family by asking to visit his home.  Excitedly, Zacchaeus immediately comes out of that tree to welcome and make arrangements for his guest.  Into this joyous scene, we hear the whispering crowds condemning Zacchaeus as a sinner. Openly exposed before Jesus, Zacchaeus learns that Jesus’ profound love for him graciously exceeds all of his sin and shame. In response, Zacchaeus extravagantly gives away half of his wealth to the poor and commits to restoring four times of all that he had stolen.  In this defining spiritual moment of repentance and faith in Jesus, Zacchaeus gives up earthly security and wealth for eternal security and riches in the household of God.

Can you relate to Zacchaeus today, possibly finding yourself weighed down by too many earthly pursuits, but empty of unconditional acceptance, eternal meaning, and security?  Jesus knows your heart and yet His love is pursuing you right now at this very moment. Get out of the crowd, run to Jesus, and immediately cast that weight of emptiness onto Him by confessing and repenting of your sin.  Like Zacchaeus, repentance may include making things right with some friends or family hurt by your sinful past. Simply obey Jesus and He will redeem your past and establish a secure, eternal future in Him.

Disciple of Jesus, do you see how the Lord stays on mission “to seek and to save the lost” within a few short days of his betrayal and crucifixion for you and me?  Let’s live like faithful ambassadors of Jesus and remember to keep our seeking eyes open to the lost and broken people around us every day. These friends and neighbors could be one Gospel encounter away from finding the soul-saving love of Jesus.

Lord, thank you for loving and pursuing me when I’ve trusted in material wealth and worldly success instead of you.  Help me to see what’s in my life that needs to be given up and the faith needed to take the hard steps of obedience so that I can have all of you.  With your help, I commit to following your example as a faithful seeker of those who are lost, just as you did at Jericho in those final days before taking my place on the cross.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.