Summary: The story of Zacchaeus is more than a children’s song. It is the truth of the impact that a life saved by grace should be making in the world.
March 16, 2003
Text: Luke 19:1-10
Title: Tree Ripened Fruit
This morning I want to share with you the story of Zacchaeus. This is not the same story as the children’s song you all know but it is the power and kind of humorous story of a man looking for meaning in his life. When we get finished with this I pray that you will be a changed person.
I. Jesus was passing through Jericho. Jesus never goes anywhere without a purpose. Look at John 4:4, "now he had to go through Samaria..." Why? To talk to a woman at a well. Matthew 8:23-27, "Jesus got in a boat..." The winds and waves obeyed him. His disciples were amazed. Jesus goes through Jericho...
Look at the map. Jesus did not have to go through Jericho to get from Galilee to Jerusalem. He had a purpose. That purpose was the spiritual knowledge that he was going exactly where the Father wanted him to go.
John 4:34, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." He would do what the Father wanted him to do. John 5:19,"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son also does." He would minister to whom the Father wanted Him to minister. John 10:16, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them in also." Verse 2. "A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus..." He was a chief tax collector.
Tax collectors made their living by collecting more from the people than what was due to Rome. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector. One of the main tax collectors in one of the main collection points in that part of the Roman Empire. That is why tax collectors were despised by the people. He was wealthy.
Was does that say? He cheated a lot of people.
But he wanted to see who Jesus was. He had heard about him. He had probably heard about the healing of blind Bartemaeus that happened just outside of Jericho.
That is the whole purpose of miracles; That people might be drawn to Jesus. God confirms His word with signs and wonders following. "He couldn?t see because he was very short and there was a crowd around Jesus."
There is an important spiritual principle that is being illustrated here that I don’t want you to miss. Jesus is being led by the Spirit. He was led, by the Spirit, into the wilderness. He came back in the power of the Spirit. If we are led by the Spirit we a children of God. Philip was led by the Spirit to Gaza to speak to an Ethiopian. When we are led by the Spirit that means that He is going before us preparing hearts to receive the gospel. The Spirit of God will cause people to do extraordinary things in order to find Jesus. Now Zacchaeus was a prominent figure.
What did he do? He climbed a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus. He was desperate to see this worker of miracles. Why? Did he think Jesus was going to lay hands on him and make him grow? Was Jesus going to bless him beyond his current financial situation? Was he looking for something special from Jesus? I believe that as Jesus was being led by the Spirit, that same Spirit was convicting Zacchaeus of his sin. Isaiah 55:6, "Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while he is still near." It has been said that "religion is man’s search for God; Christianity is God’s search for man." While Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus, Jesus was on his way to meet him.
Verse 5, "When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ’Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today."
I must stay? He was being led by the Spirit.
"So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly!"
Verse 7 - even though people immediately began to talk about both of them, nothing would keep Jesus or Zacchaeus from responding to the Spirit of God.
III. When people respond to the invitation of Christ, fruit happens. For fruit to be any good to anyone it has to be taken off the tree. If the fruit stays on the tree too long it gets rotten. If is taken off the tree before its time it just isn’t as good.
1.Tree ripened peaches from Illinois compared to picked - green and ripened - on - the - shelf peaches from Wal-Mart. Zacchaeus ripened quickly and was taken off the tree in order to be fruit that could be useful.