Summary: God has a pile of gifs that He wants you to have. But He doesn’t want to wait for a specific time or day; He wants you to open them now.
Intro: As a little boy when Christmas time would approach one of the most tortuously exciting prospects of Christmas morning was seeing the ever increasing pile of presents under the tree. I never had any trouble understanding the old saying, “slow as Christmas”. Every December just drug by for me as I anticipated the joy of Christmas morning. As the presents would mount from my parents and brothers and sister I would round up all mine into one pile for a few important purposes. First so I could closely examine each one several times a day to make sure none of the wrapping was coming untapped, or getting too lose. Secondly to keep a very close count on my total number of presents so to be sure none of them disappeared before the big day. Thirdly, I would methodically with scientific precision calculate which presents where to opened in what order. Inevitably every Christmas there was one box that according to size, shape, and rattle that I just couldn’t wait to unwrap. So I would beg my mother every year to let me open just one present before Christmas morning. Some of my friends would tell me how their mom’s would let them open one present before Christmas morning and it would drive me nuts. I would be so excited on Christmas Eve that I couldn’t sleep a wink. I would lay in my bed all night just starring into the dark listening to my brother across the room in his bed peacefully sleeping away, just wishing I could sleep. I thought if mom would just let me open one present before Christmas it would curve my excitement just enough so that I could sleep some. I mean on Christmas Eve night I would literally be bouncing off the walls, I needed medication, or Dr. Phil or something, man I was in bad shape. I would think to myself every Christmas, “out of all those presents is opening one present too much to ask?” But there were two cardinal rules with my mother, two things my mother saw as unacceptable under all circumstances, they were tattle telling, and begging. So she didn’t give in to my begging and made me wait for Christmas morning to open all my presents. And today looking back on it, even though at times it was more than I could bear, the anticipation sure did make Christmas morning great.
Transition: God has a pile of gifs that He wants you to have also. But He doesn’t want to wait for a specific time or day; He wants you to open them today. This morning we’re going to look to God’s Word and open the gift of God’s mercy.
(v. 1) Jericho was known for it’s warm climate and abundance of trade. Many wealthy people would stay in Jericho during the cold season.
(v.2) CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR –either a farmer-general of the taxes, who had subordinate collectors under him: or else the most respectable and honorable man among that class at Jericho. WEALTHY – isn’t it interesting that a wealthy man would be seeking out an impoverished carpenter from Nazareth? This says something about the attention and attraction Jesus had on the people of his day. It’s obvious from this story that Zacchaeus accumulated his wealth my cheating his fellow Hebrews on their taxes. The Jews hated tax collectors because they not only cheated them to make money off them, but they were viewed as traitors since they worked for the Roman government.
(v.3) HE WANTED TO SEE WHO JESUS WAS – curiosity was on of the factors that motivated Zacchaeus. But what was it that made Zacchaeus curios, could it have been that Zacchaeus was concerned about his soul’s eternal destination? This is a great motivation for all of us, to seek out Jesus to know Him better, to understand who God is and how He relates to us.
(v4) SO HE RAN AHEAD AND CLIMBED A SYCAMORE-FIG TREE TO SEE HIM, SINCE JESUS WAS COMING THAT WAY. When Zacchaeus made it to the parade he couldn’t see because of all the bigger-closer people. He could’ve turned and went back home and said, “oh well I gave it my best shot but I’m just not big enough.” How many people stop just short of a thriving relationship with God with this attitude? Oh well I tried but I’m just not good, spiritual, smart, churched, or straight enough to be saved. They always find some excuse as to why they can’t be saved.
(v.5) WHEN JESUS REACHED THE SPOT, HE LOOKED UP AND SAID TO HIM, “ZACCHAEUS, COME DOWN, I MUST SAY AT YOUR HOUSE TODAY…. Jesus had never meet Zacchaeus before this, but he knew him by name. WHEN HE REACHED THE SPOT. Is there a spot in your life where you came face to face with God? Is there a time you can look back on and say that’s when I accepted Jesus’ death on a cross for my sins, that’s when I asked to Lord to save my soul? I MUST STAY AT YOUR HOUSE TODAY – notice Jesus didn’t ask if He could go to Zacchaeus’ house, but told him He MUST STAY. We should desire the staying presence of Jesus not only in our homes but also most assuredly in our hearts.