Summary: For I'm Going To Your House Today.........

October 24, 2020

In the stories of Peter and Mary Magdalene, we noted the multiple encounters each had with Jesus throughout His 3 ½ year ministry.

In our final 2 sermons, we see again the one-time encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus and between Jesus and the Thief on the Cross and again we say,

One Encounter with Jesus Can Change Everything.

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. He knew what awaited him there – rejection, abuse and death. But still, today, as He made His way to the city of Jericho, the crowds followed Him, brought their sick and dying to Him and hung on His every word…………………….

Luke 19:1-2 - Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was one of the most influential Jews in the Roman tax-collecting business, and he was very rich. [NLT]

Understanding who the Tax-Collectors were and their position in Jewish society will help us understand the significance of this story. Roman taxes were collected by Jewish independent contractors who worked in close association with the Romans. Under Roman rule ---- The Jews paid:

• A religious tax to the Jewish authorities for the maintenance of the temple.

• A civil tax to the Roman government - often collected by harsh methods {There was no appeals process for these considerable abuses}. The Roman tax included both direct income tax and customs duties. Duties were paid on traded goods, while merchants also paid tolls to use roads and bridges and to enter towns. Historians estimate that the tax burden on the Jewish people must have approached between 30 and 40 percent --- may be higher.

The Tax-Collectors paid a fixed sum for the right to collect and anything above and beyond that was profit. These men became wealthy at the expense of their countrymen, Therefore ---- Tax-Collectors were despised by their fellow Jews:

They were an ever-present symbol of foreign oppression.

They were rejected socially.

They were regarded as traitors politically.

They were excommunicated as apostates.

They were not allowed to hold any office within their communities.

They were not allowed to testify in Jewish legal courts.

They were treated as the lowest class of sinners {Rabbis debated whether it was possible for them to experience true repentance}

Matthew 21:31-32 - Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did….

However….. Jesus and Zacchaeus, this hated traitor, had a divine appointment beneath a Sycamore tree in Jericho.

Luke 19:3-4 - He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowds. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree beside the road, so he could watch from there. [NLT]

No doubt Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus….. How could he not? Jesus was all over the news. He was curious to be sure, however, scripture tells us that God had been doing a little internal work as well:

John 6:44 - No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him….

Zacchaeus had begun to feel his deep need for forgiveness and restoration and he desperately wanted to see Jesus, but he had a significant problem ---- He was height challenged. No matter how high he jumped, he couldn’t see over the crowd, so he did the next best thing ---- he ran ahead and climbed a tree.

Jesus could have kept right on walking, but instead, He stopped and looked up. As the crowd followed Jesus’ gaze, all they saw was a short Tax-Collector up a tree, but Jesus saw a man who wanted a different life and who was eager for salvation and He was THRILLED!!

Luke 19:5 - …. and called him by name. "Zacchaeus!" he said. "Quick, come down! For I must be a guest in your home today." [NLT]

Jesus called him BY NAME and then invited himself over for lunch. Just as in our story of the Centurion, good Jews DID NOT go to the homes of Tax Collectors and eat with them ---- but Jesus DID:

Matthew 9:10-11 - While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

Luke 15:1-2 - Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

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