3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: Heart and Head Knowledge are insufficient

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 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." So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost."

Zacchaeus is a classic study in conversion from Scrooge, who would sell his own grandmother for a nickel, to generous philanthropist; it’s a change so fundamental in character that the difference in his life before and after meeting Jesus is like night and day. A woman testified to the transformation in her life that had resulted through her experience in conversion. She declared, "I’m so glad I got religion. I have an uncle I used to hate so much I vowed I’d never go to his funeral. But now, why, I’d be happy to go to it any time." [1]

I think there would have been any number of volunteers to attend Zacchaeus’ funeral (especially the celebration tailgate party afterward!). Yet the end of the account has Jesus holding Zach¨ up to the listening religious crowd as the recipient of God’s salvation.

Wow - last week we had a tax collector begging for mercy in the temple; now we have the head of the IRS turning his life over to Jesus. Jesus certainly liked a story with a twist! And the revival amongst the tax collectors certainly is a twist!

This morning we are going to trace this transformation from black sheep to beloved lamb. As we look at what changed the chief tax collector into a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, we will also encounter a few principles that should help us cultivate a lifestyle that displays prayers with feet; that’s the kind of prayer where what we pray for is what we are willing to let God use us to do. You put feet to your prayers! Notice first of all the

Tracks of the Tax Collector’s Dead Life

He was the chief tax collector. That means for all purposes that, among all the hated renegades who took their Jewish brothers’ money to satisfy the great burden of Roman tax demands, Zacchaeus was the baddest of the bad! He was in charge of bad! And he was hated!

Zacchaeus had made a decision to get wealthy; it obviously made no difference to him at the outset that his decision would mean he would cheat the poor and oppress those who were already beaten down. His life was more than just materialistically-based; he was mean! As such, Zacchaeus was hated in his own country. He was a necessary evil to the Romans. The man had only money to comfort him.

Now, as mean and calculatingly-cold as this legal robber might be, the person most-injured was Zacchaeus himself. God created us for relationship with Himself, and with each other. Zacchaeus’ actions had cut himself off from everyone who knew him. His love of money (or coveting) made him an enemy of his neighbors, and a sinner before God. That is a tangle that can’t last long.

I read a story of a lady in Tennessee who was preparing to paint her back porch. In order to protect the floor, all around the room, she laid-down a strip of Scotch tape-the kind with adhesive on both sides. It was her plan to stretch a drop cloth over the floor and secure it with the tape. Having succeeded in placing the tape around the entire surface, she went back inside the house to get a drop cloth.

When she got back all the carefully placed tape was gone. As she was surveying the situation and mulling over her predicament, she noticed something moving in her back yard. It was a snake. It was hopelessly tangled in a large ball of Scotch tape. The snake had crawled up on the back porch and had eased itself onto that tape with the adhesive on both sides. Sensing that the tape was sticking to its skin, the snake obviously put up a terrible struggle. In doing so it pulled every bit of tape from the floor. The harder it fought, the more hopelessly it became entangled in its cellophane prison until now it was totally captive.

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