Summary: In this passage Luke shares with us the story of Zacchaeus - a chief tax collector who 1. Wanted to see Jesus 2. Wo possessed a spirit of humility 3. Who opened his heart and home to Jesus and 4. Who displayed the heart and life of righteousness
Theme: Seeking to See Jesus
Title: Zacchaeus - The Righteous One
In this passage Luke shares with us the story of Zacchaeus - a chief tax collector who 1. Wanted to see Jesus 2. Wo possessed a spirit of humility 3. Who opened his heart and home to Jesus and 4. Who displayed the heart and life of righteousness
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world!
There are some cities that are famous for a specific thing or two. For example, the cities of Boston, New York and Pittsburg are famous for their love of sports (baseball, football, basketball, the marathon etc...). The cities of New Orleans and Memphis are famous for their love of music and festivals (Mardi Gras and Elvis Week). The cities of Chicago and Austin are famous for their love of food ( deep pan pizza and BBQ).
So, if I ask you this morning what the cities of Milan (Italy), Nottingham (England), and Jericho are famous for you might be a little stumped. I know I would be. Actually, they are the locations of some of the greatest spiritual conversions ever recorded in history. St. Augustine of Hippo (City of God - doctrine of grace and original sin) in 386 AD came to faith in the city of Milan. William Booth (Salvation Army) came to faith in 1844 in the city of Nottingham, England and from our passage this morning we know that the chief tax collector Zacchaeus came to a fullness of faith in the city of Jericho through Jesus.
Now, the city of Jericho has experienced a long and vibrant history. Archaeologist believe that the first humans settled in the city around 9000 BC making it one of the world's oldest cities. Most of us remember Jericho being the location of one of the most famous military battles in the Bible. Jericho was the first town captured by Joshua and the Israelites as they came into the Promise Land. Many of may remember the African-American Spiritual - Joshua Fit the Battle. The first line went like this:
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
And the walls come tumbling down
Historians tell us that around 35 BC Mark Anthony presented the city as a gift to his wife Cleopatra. Cleopatra believed that the persimmons that grew around the city's oasis produced a perfume which reputedly would "drive men wild". Later on when Cleopatra needed money she leased a portion of the city to Herod the Great for an exorbitant fee. Reportedly, it cost King Herod almost half of Judea's income to lease the land. King Herod wanted Jericho for its economic, political and military importance. Following the deaths of both Anthony and Cleopatra, Cesar Augustus awarded the city of Jericho to King Herod for his faithful allegiance. Josephus records that King Herod enriched the town with a number of public buildings, including a hippodrome and an amphitheatre, together with a winter palace for himself and villas for the Jewish upper class in the new town west of ancient Jericho.
Jericho, in Jesus' time then was a thriving and prosperous city. It was a city in which Jesus was well acquainted. It was near the area where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. It was also near the wilderness where Luke tells us that Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and had his encounter with Satan. Jesus also made the road leading down to Jericho the scene of one of his famous parables, the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
It is here on Jesus' last trip to Jericho as he is making his way to Jerusalem that we find our story. It is a story that reminds us of the tremendous power and possibility of sudden conversion. There is something incredible about hearing the story of someone coming to faith, especially someone no one would have expected. Pastor Jim Cymbala reminds us that "People pay attention when they see that God actually changes persons and sets them free. When a new Christian stands up and tells how God has revolutionized his or her life, no one dozes off. When someone is healed or released from a life-controlling bondage, everyone takes notice." (Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, pgs 161-162).
This morning, I would like to invite you to take notice of some wonderful qualities that we find here in our story surrounding this tax collector named Zacchaeus. Surprisingly in one way and yet not in another his name means "righteous one". For many years it appears that he did not live up to his name but as we read our passage all of that changes. This morning, let's look at some of qualities that this man possessed that can help us in our own spiritual formation journey. We see first of all that: