Summary: This sermon explores how life can be transformed through faith in Jesus. It uses the examples of Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, the fishermen of Galilee, and the rich young man.
He Makes All Things New
Learning about JESUS: the Way, the Truth and the Life
A sermon by Jeff Foster preached to the Cortez Church of Christ January 14, 2007
When I was a child, the man who lived across the alleyway from my family was a rather strange man who had an extraordinary gift.
We would often find him in the alley rummaging through dumpsters. He would find junk, old things that people had thrown away—broken furniture, busted electronics, tattered clothing—and he would gather up these things and bring them to his home and repair them. He then would sell the items in a yard sale.
What everybody else regarded as eccentric, this man considered a calling. He relished the opportunity to take something old, discarded, useless and make it new again.
Isn’t this what we see in Jesus?
Consider Zacchaeus. Here was a man who was quite successful in his business. He was a tax collector and apparently quite good at it. He had amassed a great fortune, but in ways that were quite shady. He had become reviled by all of his neighbors.
You remember his story. It is recorded for us in Luke 19.
One afternoon, Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming to town. He knew some things about Jesus. Everybody was talking about him—how he was healing people of their illnesses, giving sight to the blind, casting demons out of the possessed, even raising the dead. Zacchaeus had certainly heard about the things Jesus was saying. “Blessed are the poor, and woe to you who are rich,” was certain to catch Zaccheaus’s attention.
Hearing that Jesus was coming to his town, to the streets of Jericho . . . well, Zacchaeus had to make every effort to see this man. His desire belies an unease deep within Zacchaeus. Despite his wealth, his success, his powerful job, Zacchaeus wanted, no needed something more. Perhaps he had become convicted by his lack of ethics, by his shady business dealings, by the stigma attached to his profession. Whatever the feelings deep down inside, Zacchaeus felt compelled to see Jesus, for in Jesus he saw a new beginning.
The scene is rather ironic. Zacchaeus, a man of powerful position was a man of short stature. The crowds thronging the route Jesus was taking through Jericho blocked Zacchaeus’s view of the man he so desperately wanted, no needed to see. But he did not give up. He did not allow this obstacle to prevent him seeing Jesus, from seeking a new way in his life. No, he found a tree, a sycamore tree, and he climbed up into its branches. His efforts paid off. He saw Jesus, but more importantly, Jesus saw him.
What Jesus said to the man is extraordinary: He said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19.5). Can you imagine the look of surprise on the face of Zacchaeus?
Jesus knew the man’s name, and you would have to think that Jesus knew something about the man himself. Yet, when Jesus addressed Zacchaeus, he did not see a shady, crooked, despised tax collector. No, he saw a man who had undoubtedly made some mistakes in life, who had obviously earned the ire of his neighbors, but who was desperately wanting, needing renewal.
The genuineness of Zacchaeus’s heart is seen in his words. He said to Jesus, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much” (Luke 19.8). Zacchaeus had become a changed man. In Jesus, he found the ability to renew his heart and to humble himself. Jesus affirms his rebirth as a man: he says, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
Indeed Jesus makes all things new.
Consider the woman who crashed the party at Simon’s house. Simon was a Pharisee, a man of great respect in the community. He had invited Jesus to be his guest for dinner. We read about the occasion in Luke 7.
In the middle of the meal, something quite shocking happens. A woman bursts in. She was not on the guest list. In fact, she was a woman who would never be welcomed into Simon’s home. She was a woman of the streets, a prostitute.
What brought her to Simon’s home? Undoubtedly she, like Zacchaeus, had heard about Jesus. Perhaps she had witnessed one of his miracles. Perhaps she had overheard one of his powerful sermons. Perhaps she had only heard about Jesus through the reports of others.
The text tells us that she came into the room where Simon and his guests were eating, and she immediately fell at Jesus’ feet. Her eyes were filled with tears. She was weeping. Her tears were for herself. The implication of the text is clear, she had become convicted of her sins and had sought out Jesus.