Summary: A narrative of how Jesus set Zacchaeus free from greed to generosity and how He can set us free from our sinful attitudes as well.
Topic: Salvation/Christian Living
Theme: Saved from Sinful Attitudes
Purpose: to be the Holy Spirit’s second witness calling God’s people in my care to pray for salvation from sin and sinful attitudes.
Response: Individuals will ask Jesus to set them free from sinful attitudes in order to experience God’s grace fully.
Pattern: A narrative of how Jesus set Zacchaeus free from greed to generosity and how He can set us free from our sinful attitudes as well.
Visual Aid: Handcuffs, bank moneybag, “floor map”
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)
He set out from his home in Capernaum on the north west shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus worked his way south to the border of Samaria. The people there refused to receive him and so he turned east and crossed the Jordan River. He kept going south until he was across the river from Jericho.
[Then] Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again." The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. (Luke 18:31-34)
Jesus knew where he was going and he knew what would happen. His disciples were trapped by their preconceived ideas and couldn’t understand what he was saying. It just didn’t fit with their attitudes.
After they crossed the Jordan River and head west toward Jericho, Jesus came across a blind man and healed him. When he entered Jericho, he met a man called Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus had grown up in a wealthy family. They probably lived in a big, beautiful house. Everything had gone very well for them until the Romans conquered Jericho. When the soldiers arrived at his door, Zacchaeus faced his toughest decision about right and wrong. The invading army wanted to collect taxes – especially from the rich. That’s when --
Zacchaeus had a big problem – his CHARACTER – not his tax load.
You see, he was GREEDY. Zacchaeus loved his money and possessions more than anything or anyone. He wanted to keep all he had to acquire even more.
So he became a TRAITOR. Instead of paying taxes to the Roman soldiers, Zacchaeus went to work for them. He started collecting taxes from his neighbors.
That’s when Zacchaeus became a CHEAT. The Roman government did not pay tax collectors a salary. The law gave them to right to charge people whatever they wanted as long as the Empire received a set tax. Any extra was the tax collector’s to keep for “administrative expenses.” The Roman soldiers arrested anyone who resisted paying the tax collector. Zacchaeus could collect two or three times what a person owed and get off scot-free. And he did.
So, Zacchaeus was a very LONELY man. No one wanted to be his friend. Who could trust a greedy, traitorous cheat? The only people who could stand to be with Zacchaeus were his fellow tax collectors.
By the way – how does your character compare to JESUS? God will judge us by the standard Jesus set. The Bible tells us, “[Jesus was] tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). When we compare ourselves to Zacchaeus we can think we look great. But not one of us is without sin because “all [of us] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). When we compare ourselves to Jesus, we all know we need help.
For months, Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and was CURIOUS.
Some people said Jesus was a prophet. Others believed he was the Messiah. But the stories that interested Zacchaeus the most were the ones about Jesus and tax collectors. People said Jesus liked to eat with them. This religious teacher would hang out with guys and gals no one else would even think about.
Zacchaeus WANTED to see Jesus. And that brings us to Jesus entering Jericho. The news spread rapidly and soon the streets were filled with people wanting to see – or to be seen with – Jesus.
That was a real problem for Zacchaeus. He was not only short on character; he was just plain short! So he climbed a TREE so he could see Jesus. He did not expect to talk to Jesus but Zacchaeus really wanted to see him.
But wait a minute. Why would a rich, greedy traitorous cheat humble himself enough to climb a tree? Why would he risk falling and breaking an arm just to see Jesus? I believe he was drawn to Jesus by THE HOLY SPIRIT.