Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

06/25/2017 A.M.

 

Tree Climbing Religion – Lessons From Zacchaeus

Luke 19.1-10

 

Go with me to the city of Jericho... It is one of the oldest cities of Antiquity.

In the time of Jesus... Jericho was a recreational paradise... Palestine's favorite vacation destination... With ornamental rose gardens... Palm trees...Balsam forest... And fig groves.

 

Josephus called it... A divine region... The fattest of all Palestine.

The city is famous to even the casual Bible student...

• It was the site of Israel's entrance into the Promise Land... Where the walls came

tumbling down.

• It was on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho... Where the story of the Good Samaritan took place.

 

This morning... We visit Jericho because it is the home of Zacchaeus the tax collector.

 

As a tax collector... Zacchaeus had climbed to the top... A wealthy... But a hated man.  As a Jewish tax collector he had traded his birthright for Herodian favoritism. He had compromised his Jewish heritage...Sold his Jewish brothers for a dollar.

As a tax collector he would have had the reputation as...

• A liar...

• A cheat...

• And a thief...

Zacchaeus would have been the most despised man in the city.  The Pharisees had categorically excluded all publicans and tax collectors from the House of God... The family of God.

 

Zacchaeus had another problem too... He was short.

Because of this... He had climbed a Sycamore Fig tree in order to better see Jesus as He passed through the streets of Jericho.

 

The Sycamore Fig... Or Mulberry Fig... Was a stocky, easy-to-climb tree. The leaves were large... Looking a lot more like our oak or sycamore leaf... Than a fig leaf.

 

As Jesus passes by... He sees Zacchaeus there... He stops... And tells...

• This chief of sinners...

• This outcast...

• This reprobate...

To come down.

Come down join me... For I am staying at your house tonight.

 

What I want to do is to spiritualize this narrative...

Seeing what we might learn...

 

First...We are called by God.

Just as Jesus called Zacchaeus... He calls each of us individually.

We find God calling... Adam & Eve... Noah... Abraham... Moses... Samuel...Paul and others.

• In the cool of the evening... God comes calling Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Last week we stood with Moses at the burning bush... It was... MOSES... MOSES.

From a bright light on the Damascus Road...PAUL... PAUL.

• Jesus passes by saying... Zacchaeus come down... I am going home with you... I call you.

 

I hope you are one who believes that Jesus is calling you... Speaking to you PERSONALLY!

• Do you remember what Peter said on Pentecost?... The promise is for you and your children... And for all who are far off... For all whom the Lord our God will call.

Paul told the Roman and Corinthian churches that they were called to be saints.

In Philippians three, Paul says... I press on toward the goal God called me to.

Jude addresses his letter to those who were called.

Second Thessalonians 2.14 tells us that He calls us through the gospel.

 

You see... There is not a person in this audience that Jesus is not calling this morning... Even with this sermon... Do you hear him?

• He is calling some to become his children by... Faith... Repentance... Confession... and Baptism.

• He is calling others to become evangelistic... To share Jesus with others.

• He calls us to forsake our trust in materialism... Our pursuit of lustful pleasures... Our evil desires.

• Perhaps He’s calling us to move from lukewarmness... To become more deeply involved in His Kingdom work.

I know what you are thinking... I don’t hear him... I never have heard God speak to me... Perhaps it’s because we’re not listening.

 

Question!...

How much time do we spend in... the Word... The Book... The Bible.

• Where is our... mind and heart...During sermons and Bible classes?

• Have we not heard God in Nature... Or are we so caught-up in... self... money... and things, that we never take time to hear Him in His creation?

• Have we not heard Him in situations and circumstances in life?

 

Lord willing... Next week... We’ll note seven or eight ways God speaks to us... Just as sure as he did to Zacchaeus?

 

This narrative calls us… To hear Jesus... To listen to Him... To respond to His call in obedience.

 

Secondly...We learn that there’s no place we can hide.

The sycamore fig had big leaves.

Did Zacchaeus choose this tree in an attempt to see Jesus... Without Jesus seeing him?... Was this his intent?

 

We do that sometimes... Don’t we?

 

I mean... Not one of us here this morning... Who knows anything about... Heaven...Hell... Sin... Forgiveness... and Salvation... Would want to be blinded to Christ.

 

We all want to see Jesus... Because... Because... 

Our text says he came to save the lost.

Acts 4.12 tells us that there is salvation in none other.

The Hebrew writer maintains... That...if we turn our back on Jesus there remains no other sacrifice for sin.

Yes...We all want... To see Jesus... To know Jesus.

 

Perhaps sometimes... We don’t want Jesus to see us.

• I see you Randall... Go tell your neighbor about Me... Be evangelistic in all that you do.

• I see you Dallas... Be diligent in serving Me as a Godly Elder... Take heed to the flock.

• I see you Jeff... Preach the word.

• I see you... John & MaryAnn... Sharon… Be an effective Bible teacher.

• I see you... Wash feet...

• I see you Aaron & Becky...Be good Christian parents... Wife... Husband... Father... Deacon…

• I see you... Be an example to your children and grandchildren...

• I see you... Be a Christian businessman...

• I see you... Be My lady... My man... My Teen... In all you do!!

 

Indeed!!...We want to see Jesus... But sometime we don’t want him pointing his finger in our face and saying... Come down from there... Leave your stuff... Leave your lofty position...Leave your social or political status... I am going to your house... I am going to work with you... Accompany you in retirement... I’m gonna be your constant companion.

 

That day... A man named Zacchaeus learned he could not hide from Jesus... That he could not hide from his Kingdom Responsibilities.

 

We hear Jesus say... I want to be your constant companion.

Jesus told Zacchaeus... I am going home with you.

There are times we want to leave Jesus here at the building...

We have made this auditorium… A Holy Place... God’s Temple.

God never intended such... Scripture tells us we are His Holy Place...

John says... He lives in us through the Spirit He gave us....

Paul tells us that we are His Temple... We are His Living Sacrifice...

Colossians 1.27 tells us that Jesus living in us is our Hope of Glory...

Indeed there is NO hope unless He lives in us... Amen?

 

Sometimes we’re guilty of saying... God you stay down there at interstate 49 and County road 40. I’ll come visit... once... twice...even three times a week... But don’t you show up at my house... Out on the golf course... More importantly... Don't show up at the office... Especially unannounced!!

 

I know people who don’t even want the preacher to show up unannounced... Much less Jesus...

• Is Jesus in our home?... Is He there... when we choose the TV programs we watch?

• The books we read... The internet sights we visit... The movies we see?

• Is He there when we choose... The clothes we wear?

• When we have the neighbors over?

• When we talk about the church?

 

Remember my Aunt Florence... I’ve told you about the sign she had over her front porch... It read... Jesus is an unseen guest in this house.

 

As a child that sign made an impression on me... In fact that sign still speaks to me today… it still reminds me that Jesus is a constant companion in my life.

 

Do you and your preacher have such a sign over our house?... Over our marriages...Such a sign over our children... At our office or workplace?... Do we have such a sign over our finances?

 

Jesus’ companionship made some radical changes in the business ethics of Zacchaeus.

 

Question...What radical changes has Jesus' constant companionship made in my life and yours?

 

You see... Genuine conversion... Genuine conversion... Calls for radical changes in the way we think... Talk... Act... And react to life's situation and circumstances.

 

Paul says... In ALL you do... IN ALL YOU DO... In word... In deed... Do all in the name of the Lord... Do all as if He were present in your life... For He is... He is your constant companion.

 

Genuine religion understands the purpose ofJesus’ coming...

Look at verse seven... They all begin to murmur... Because Jesus dealt with sinners.

 

Everybody has their idea of who Jesus was... is... or should be.  The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for… a Messiah...a deliverer.  They thought Jesus would...

Deliver physical Israel from Roman Imperialism.

Restore spiritual Israel by relieving the Godly... Burning the wicked as if they were chaff...

 

That's what they expected.  These people would have been happier if Jesus had pulled Zacchaeus from the tree... Kicked him... Beat him... Hung him in this sycamore.

 

But Jesus didn’t come to destroy sinners... Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to call the sinner to repentance.

 

Listen church...Is it possible that we too have some wrong ideas about

the purpose of Jesus’ coming?... Do we?

 

Some today expect Jesus to deliver them from all their problems.

They see Jesus as a good luck charm... As a rabbit’s foot redeemer... Someone to call on in hard times... When difficult times come into their life... And with good reason... We hear preachers say... Accept Jesus... And you’ll get a raise... Make good grades... Win the Publisher’s Sweepstakes... That new house... New car... Will be yours.

 

Jesus does not promise to deliver us from problems... But He does promise to infuse us with strength we need to deal with them.

 

God told Paul... My grace is sufficient.

God didn't remove Paul's thorn in the flesh... But did provide him strength to deal with it. And he will us... And He will us… In whatever situation that might arise.

 

There is nothing in this narrative that says Jesus relieved Zacchaeus’ personal problems... But that Jesus walked with him... Sat in his house...

 

Here it is class... Some of Zacchaeus’ problems got worse instead of better... Now the Jewish leaders and populous hated him even more... Because of His association with Jesus.

 

Some people understand Jesus came to save without obedience.

They simply believe God is… Too loving,... Too good... To allow a soul to be lost in torment.

 

Listen to II Peter 3.9 as he expresses God’s feelings and intent for usGod is not slack in keeping His promises as some understand slackness. But He is longsuffering... Patient with us... Not willing that any should perish... But that all should come to repentance.

 

God so loved the world… God loves us so much... Wants us saved so badly... That he sent His only Son to do just that.

 

God has provided… A way for us all to escape Hell... A way to be saved.

 

Titus tells us that His grace has appeared to all men... But the choice is ours.

Acknowledge Him as Savior and be saved.

• Deny Him and be lost.

• Obey Him and be forgiven.

• Disobey Him and remain in our sin.

 

In our text Jesus told Zacchaeus to come down... And he did.

That's obedience... He obeyed the voice... The call of God.

The choice was Zacchaeus'... And the choice is ours.

Jesus is saying... Come Down... You can’t be saved by just wanting to see Jesus.

You must make Him a part of your everyday life through obedience.

 

Our lesson teaches that there’s no salvationwithout repentance.

Visiting Jesus here at the building... Even taking Jesus home with us... Does not save. Believing in Him... Faith alone does not save.

 

Salvation is a result of a changed life... Our becoming Changed people… It’s called repentance.

 

Listen to Zacchaeus... Lord half of my goods I give to the poor... And if I have cheated anyone of anything... I will restore it four fold.

 

Seeing Jesus… Accepting Jesus into our life… Means…

• Changing the way we think...

• Changing our allegiance...

• Changing our behavior...

That’s repentance.

 

No wonder we hear Jesus say I came to call the sinner to repentance.

Again… We hear Peter sayGod is not slack in his promises… But is patient with us… Not willing for any to perish… But waiting for us to come to repentance.

 

Church...Each of us must leave our tree of denial of sin and come to repentance... A change of heart that’s deep enough to result in a change in the way we think and live.

 

Finally... Salvation brings peace with God.

Jesus tells Zacchaeus... Salvation has come to your home.

Salvation here in the Greek is the word Sotgria (So-Tare).

In the Septuagint it is used to translate the word Shalom... The Hebrew word for peace.

Peace for Zacchaeus was possible only after being restored to his place as a child of Abraham... As a citizen of the kingdom of God... As a brother.

 

Today...Peace with God is the result of having our sins forgiven.

In Acts chapter two... After hearing Jesus preached... The greatest desire for those in Peter’s Pentecostian audience was to be at peace with God through forgiveness of their sins.

 

Acts 2.38 plainly says... Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

 

First John 1.9 tells us that.... As a Child of God... Our sins are forgiven by our acknowledging them... Confessing them... Admitting them… To GodIf we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

Why not bringPeace… Forgiveness… Salvation into your life… Come to Jesus as we stand and sing this song together.