Summary: This sermon looks at the value of restitution demonstrated in the life of Zacchaeus.


Part 1—Payback is Sweet

Luke 19:1-10

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pastor Brian Matherlee

A soldier fighting over in Iraq received a letter from his girl friend that said she was breaking up with him. She also asked him to send the picture she had given him when he left because she needed it for her bridal announcement. The soldier was heart broken and told his friends of his terrible situation. So his whole platoon got together and brought all their pictures of their girlfriends, and put them in a box and gave them to him. So he put her picture in the box with the rest along with a note that said, “I’m sending back your picture to you please remove it and send back the rest. For the life of me I can’t remember which one you are.” We love revenge don’t we? (

A woman went shopping and was fumbling through her purse to pay when a TV remote fell out. The clerk asked her if she always carried the remote. The lady said, “No, my husband wouldn’t come shopping so I figured this was the meanest thing I could do to him.”

We love revenge don’t we?

Luke 19:1-10

Lk 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

Lk 19:2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

Lk 19:3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.

Lk 19:4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

Lk 19:5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Lk 19:6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

Lk 19:7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ”

Lk 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Lk 19:9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

Lk 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”


• Jericho was a major trading center in Israel. Great wealth funneled through this area. It would have been a prime location for a tax collector.

• Zacchaeus was not the same kind of tax collector the disciple Matthew (Levi) was. Zacchaeus was the highest rung up on the ladder of abuse. Matthew would have worked for a guy like Zacchaeus.

• The hatred for tax collectors is something we can relate to but you have to understand how the system worked to grasp why tax collectors were loathed. I have a cousin who works for the IRS. If he tells people what he does he gets a reaction…but they don’t want him dead! People hated Zacchaeus.

• The Roman system of tax collecting involved contracting with individuals (Zacchaeus) to collect a certain amount from people who then could extort more from the people to make their living. The Scripture tells us he was wealthy…so he must have been very good at it.

• What’s ironic is this man with big influence was such a small man.

The Story

• Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. Really it seems he was desperate to see Him. He was too small and couldn’t bully his way for an audience with Jesus so he had to run ahead of the crowd and wait to get a glimpse of Him. I wonder what he thought while He waited in that tree. Do you think people ridiculed him? Undeterred, Zacchaeus’ patience paid off. He saw Jesus. But the interesting thing to note is that Jesus wanted to see Zacchaeus more than vice versa.

• Note the urgency in Jesus statement

o Come down immediately

o I must stay at your house today

• Oh, how God longs to be with us. Don’t you know no matter how much you have longed to be with the Lord, He has desired you.

• The God tells us in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” In Romans 5:8 we read, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

• Jesus knew Zacchaeus by name. I think He knew him from previous encounters and not simply by reputation.

• In Luke 5:27-32 we see another time Jesus encountered a tax collector.

Lk 5:27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him,

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