Summary: Today, we are going to meet someone named Zacchaeus who had the same issues facing him, but made a different decision when meeting Jesus Christ… and to be honest, it is a little shocking. Zacchaeus could stay the way he was or he could make some changes
A SHORT STORY ABOUT GROWING TALL
INTRODUCTION… snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp & snopes.com/daily/
Last week John encouraged us to not give into temptation and spread rumors and talk about things before we know the facts. This is definitely true in the church; it is also true with email and telling stories. John mentioned a website called Snopes.com. It is a website dedicated to rooting out false claims and providing truth. I perused that website again this week, just out of curiosity, and was absolutely shocked with a couple of the things I found.
I looked in the “Odd News” section of the site. I learned that it is true that a mother beat up a neighborhood 10-year-old girl in San Antonio because she would not share her ice cream with her 4-year-old. I was also shocked to learn that a Nebraska man was arrested for assaulting his wife with a sandwich. I also found out that a woman really did fall off a cliff in Alaska while texting.
I am looking at some of these reports of true things that are happening and the thought occurred to me that some people need to grow up. Sometimes we make mistakes and say something wrong or have a wrong belief, but once we are faced with the error of our ways, we should learn and then change how we live. I hope the ice cream boxer and sandwich man and the Alaskan cliff jumper change their ways.
Today we will take a look at a short story of a man who came face-to-face with Jesus and he had a choice to make. To be honest, in the middle of Luke 18 we saw someone else, a rich young ruler, who came face-to-face with Jesus, was faced with a choice, and opted to keep his old way of life. That rich young ruler had much going for him, but in the end he chose a path away from Jesus Christ. Today, we are going to meet someone named Zacchaeus who had the same issues facing him, but made a different decision when meeting Jesus Christ… and to be honest, it is a little shocking. Zacchaeus could stay the way he was or he could make some changes in his life. He made the decision to grow up. He made the decision to grow tall and stretch himself to become more like Jesus Christ. Let’s read this morning.
I. SITUATION: Zacchaeus under Stress
As we read the first six verses of the passage this morning, I would like you to notice most specifically the actions of Zacchaeus. We find a man under stress… a man with issues in his life.
READ LUKE 19:1-6
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 being a short man he could not, because of 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.
Jesus was becoming more and more well known. People from all over had heard about this phenomenal teacher who speaks in parables (Luke 14-16), who heals lepers (Luke 17), and even gives sight to the blind (Luke 18). We even read the story a few weeks ago about a rich young ruler coming to Jesus inquiring about eternal life (Luke 18). That same man who talked to rulers and healed the sick was now passing through the town of Jericho. As evidence for Jesus’ increasing popularity and the fame for His miracles and teaching, verse 3 describes for us that a crowd had gathered around Jesus and He was difficult to see.
Among the people who are trying to get a glimpse of Jesus was Zacchaeus who is given the title of “chief tax collector.” That is a title only found here in Luke 19 and it applies only to Zacchaeus. Apparently Jericho was a tax collecting hub for the Romans and it was Zacchaeus who was in charge. That means that Zacchaeus had a privileged job among the Romans and was probably despised by the Jews even more than regular tax collectors. His life was a wealthy and privileged one, but also one where his neighbors and fellow citizens of Jericho couldn’t stand him. They hated him… they considered him a traitor and among the worst kind of sinner. That is interesting considering the rich young ruler had been to see Jesus and everyone seemed to like him.
We also find that the first 6 verses of this passage describe for us a stressful situation for Zacchaeus. He