Summary: This sermon is for seekers. It connects with an audience who may not understand what they are missing by not knowing Christ
Luke 19:1-10 – Searching for answers??
A candid look at the life of a seeker
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector... and was rich.
3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.
4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house… 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Leo Tolstoy wrote what the Encyclopedia Britannica describes as “one of the two or three greatest novels in world literature” – War and Peace.
But he also wrote another lesser known work, an autobiography entitled A Confession, in which he tells of his search for the meaning of life.
Rejecting Christianity in his youth, Tolstoy left the university in search of pleasure. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, he drank heavily, lived promiscuously, and gambled frequently. Like so many young people, his ambition was to become wealthy and famous; but the more he drove himself, the more he discovered nothing satisfied him.
In 1862, he married a loving wife and had 13 children. In the minds of his friends, his life was the picture of ‘happiness.’
But just underneath that happy façade were questions that haunted him to the verge of suicide:
What is the meaning of life?
What have I achieved that really matters?
What will happen to me when I die?
Here was a man who had everything he had always dreamed of – but there was one thing that no amount of money could buy –
peace. All his successes proved unable to answer the deepest questions of his soul.
He THEN turned to science and philosophy – hoping THESE would give him purpose. But as he considered his contemporaries, he saw that people were not answering what he called “the first-order questions of life.”
“Why am I here?”
“Where am I going?”
“What’s life all about?”
Eventually he found that the peasants of Russia had been able to answer these questions through their Christian faith. He came to believe that only in Jesus Christ can man find the answer.
A hundred years later, nothing has changed… people are still grappling with life’s most basic questions.
Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the rock group Queen, who died of AIDS in 1991, asked in one of his last songs, “Does anybody know WHAT we are living for?”
What are YOU “living for?”
Maybe YOU are like Tolstoy – ambitious, filled with goals – driven to succeed… only to find a certain barrenness about it all. Oh, we aren’t questioning your abilities… or even your intentions intentions… but after ALL you have accomplished are you still scratching your head wondering “Is THIS all there is?”
Zacchaeus was like that. He was a man who had turned his back on his Jewish heritage with ONEgoal... wealth. He had risen as high as the ladder would take him – showing no regard for all those he had hurt along the way.
“It was a small price to pay,” he may have thought, “Any who judge me are just jealous.” His ruthlessness as a tax-collector, had not only earned him the position of ‘chief tax collector,’ it had also earned him a spot on Israel’s most-hated list.
No doubt, the noise in the street outside his home made him more than a little bit curious. But it wasn't simple curiosity that drove him up that tree. He was searching for what all of us desire – peace… purpose. Anything less would have caused him to dispatch a servant to see what all the hubbub was about. But it was Jesus coming – and this merited closer inspection.
I don’t pretend to know all the thoughts running through his mind – but I think we can rightly assume that in the very least, Zacchaeus was searching… it MAY have been novel curiosity that moved him to such great lengths, but more than likely it was an inescapable need that drove him up that tree.