Encounters with Jesus (Zachaeus)
Jason White

Zachaeus’s encounter with Jesus shows us that Jesus didn’t avoid sinners but welcomed them. Jesus had dinner with Zachaeus and his life was changed forever. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and He wants to do the same through you and me today.

Luke 19:8-10… But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”





Sermon Audio Transcript
When I was a senior in college, I was serving as the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on our campus…And part of what that meant in my mind was that I had a reputation to uphold…to watch how I was acting, to behave well in front of others, to watch who I was hanging out with b/c I didn’t want to give Jesus a bad name and I wanted to be seen as a good Christian and stand up for truth. And so one day I am with a group of guys at a basketball game, and one of the guys was this freshman baseball player; and man, let me put it this way…he had a very limited vocabulary. And at first I just let it go, thinking surely he can’t keep this up forever…but…he did.And it was really starting to get on my nerves…and now I’m really starting to think about my reputation as the FCA president, “What if someone hears him talking like this in a conversation with me and they associate me as a Christian with that kind of language?” And so then I just got mad at him… and I’m thinking in my head, “What a loser…I mean he thinks he’s being cool by using this language, but it’s not cool…it’s terrible, it’s filthy…man how bad of a person does this guy have to be to cuss THIS much?” And then I blew up, and I turned and glared at him in anger and said, “Can you just shut up? Just shut up…man, why do you cuss SO much? I’m tired of it…so if you can’t say anything other than the f-bomb then just quit talking.”To audience: “Man, I put him in his place, didn’t I?” Score one up for me on Jesus’ scoreboard. I bet Jesus was so proud of me for standing up for good morals…for protecting His reputation…for putting this sinner in his place… OR WAS HE? A few weeks ago we started a message series called, Encounter… where we are looking at some of the encounters people had with Jesus in the N.T. and what kind of an impact it made on them and what it can even mean for us today. Well, we are going to look at another one of those encounters this morning, and this one involves a guy who was seen by the people around him in much the same way as I was viewing this freshman baseball player that I was hanging out with. So let’s see if Jesus handles the situation similarly to the way I did…I mean surely He does…I mean He had a reputation to uphold during His earthly ministry too. Luke 19:1…Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.Okay, so there might be a tendency for us today to read something like this about a tax collector and have our minds go to someone who works for like the IRS or something…And while a lot of us might not be too fond of someone from the IRS since we associate them collecting taxes from us, it doesn’t even really come close to what the Jewish people thought of tax collectors in Jesus’ day. As you know, the Romans were the ones in power during this time and were seen as the enemy…they were a secular nation who was exercising their dominance over God’s chosen people…& the Jewish nation was having to live under their rules & in the middle of their unclean & unholy ways of doing things, and they were having to pay taxes to them. So that was bad enough in and of itself…but then there were some Jewish people who stepped out and began working for the Roman Empire as their tax collectors. So now, Jewish people were having to be approached by someone else who was Jewish to collect taxes from them, so they were viewed as traitors. But it’s even worse than that…because not only would these tax collectors collect the taxes that were owed to the Roman Empire, but they would add a surcharge onto it to make money for themselves out of the deal. So this was seen a robbery and there was a huge disdain for those who were tax collectors. And Luke tells us that Zacchaeus was not just any tax collector but that he was a chief tax collector…so he was good at it. It most likely meant that he was in charge of like a Regional Tax Center and was making a lot of money off of his fellow countrymen in this process. So he was hated…seen in their eyes as being up there w/murderers & robbers. So Jesus better be careful if he comes in contact w/this guy, it could really damage his reputation. Let’s see what happens…v. 33 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. Ohhh man, this guy has it comin’ for him now! Jesus has spotted this sinner and called him down and He is about to put him in his place…set him straight…call out all of his wrongs and how bad of a guy he really is for taking all this money from his own people…from God’s people…Jesus might even just condemn him straight to hell b/c of who he is and what he’s done. This is about to get good…let’s see what happens…“Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must judge you and condemn you and put you in your place!… I must stay at your house today?”WHAT?!?!? Come on Jesus, you have a reputation to uphold here…what are you doing man? You can’t go stay at his house, it will ruin your reputation! What if other people associate Zacchaeus’ behavior with who you are and what you are about? This is crazy…v. 66 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” The word translated “mutter” here in the NIV is similar to the word for what the Israelites did in the O.T. when they were wandering in the dessert. It means to grumble or to complain…to express discontent in an emphatic way. They were mad! They were angry. They don’t like this guy, Zacchaeus…he is a tax collector, he is on par with murderers and robbers, “this guy doesn’t deserve to have Jesus come to his house and be his guest… stay the night with him.” They are basically saying, “It looks like Jesus is accepting this guy in spite of who he is and what he has done, but we don’t accept Zacchaeus! And so neither should Jesus!” V. 88 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Wow, that is generous! So, Zacchaeus, as a wealthy chief tax collector had been using money to store up for himself, to get rich…to make a name for himself, to provide security, to give him meaning/purpose…I mean honestly many of the same feelings that we have about money today…BUT NOW, after this encounter that Zacchaeus has with Jesus, his heart changes and he begins to see money in a different light. He starts to see that it is no longer money that provides these things for himself but that it is Jesus…Jesus provides security and meaning and purpose and gives us a name.And so now, after seeing Jesus for who He is and money for what it is…He now feels free to just give it away to bless others and right his wrongs. Boy, this encounter with Jesus has really changed Zacchaeus and his heart… And Jesus points that out next…v99 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.Now to be clear, salvation didn’t come to Zacchaeus b/c of his willingness to give away his money. Scripture is clear that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Eph. 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you are saved through faith and this is a gift from God so that no one can boast.” So what happened at some point in his encounter w/Jesus is that Zacchaeus realized his need for Jesus & through faith had been saved and given a new heart. And so now b/c he received Jesus’ free gift of salvation, Zacchaeus was a part of God’s family. That’s what “Son of Abraham” means. It’s just another way of saying that he is a part of God’s family. In Galatians 3:7, Paul says, 7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. He explains this in Romans 4 as well... So listen, the crowd had thought that Zacchaeus was way too far from the reach of God…he was up there with murderers and robbers, but Jesus didn’t see him as too far gone. As a matter of fact, what Jesus says next revealed that this is exactly what His mission is, to reach people like Zacchaeus. Look at verse 10…10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”This was Jesus’ mission…it still is His mission. He came for those like Zacchaeus who were lost in their way…no matter how far they had gone down the path of sin…He came to seek after them and to save them. And really, that includes all of us. We are all lost. Some of us recognize it and know it and others of us think we are fine, got life under control, know exactly where we are and what we are doing… but Jesus is seeking after us too, b/c we are just as lost, we just don’t know it yet. But this is His mission, out of great love for us, He seeks after us to reveal our lostness to us and show us our need for Him and to reveal His free gift of salvation which is available to all of us if we will receive it by faith. And maybe that’s where you find yourself today?YOU – As a matter of fact, the question that I really want to ask you this morning is, “Where do you find yourself in this encounter?” or “Who do you see yourself as in this encounter?” Do you see yourself as Zacchaeus (The Sinner)? Maybe you can point to some things in your life, like Zacchaeus, that you really aren’t proud of…maybe you’ve wandered down a really dark path or maybe you just know that you certainly haven’t been perfect…Well, if that is where you find yourself this morning, I hope that you’ve seen through this encounter that no matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what you think about yourself, you aren’t too far from the reach of God. And if you will turn to Him and accept His free gift of forgiveness by placing your faith in Jesus to be your Lord/Savior, He will forgive you and come to dwell in you and give you eternal life that starts now as you learn to walk w/Him and depend on Him as your Source.But maybe you don’t see yourself as Zacchaeus, the sinner, ready to receive salvation just quite yet this morning, maybe you see yourself as Zacchaeus (The Seeker). We saw that Zacchaeus was intrigued by Jesus, that he was curious about Jesus but that he couldn’t see who Jesus was himself b/c of the crowd…but he didn’t let the crowd stop him from seeing who Jesus was himself, & that is what I want to encourage you not to do either. See the “crowd” will try to tell you who Jesus is…people on the news or on social media will tell you who they think Jesus is or who they have heard someone else say Jesus is…and it can be really easy to just kind of settle our minds that this must in fact be who Jesus really is. But I want to encourage you to not let that happen…continue to seek out who Jesus really is by asking him through prayer…“Jesus who are you? If you are real, then show me who you really are and what that means for me personally.” And go to the Bible yourself and read about who He really is…And here is the really cool part about that…we saw how Jesus said His mission was seeking out people, so while you are seeking out who Jesus is really, He is happy to reveal Himself to you and show you who He really is. Okay, so maybe you don’t see yourself as either one of those two sides of Zacchaeus this morning, but where you see yourself is being part of the crowd. Remember, those in the crowd said, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner!”…they were muttering & complaining about who Zacchaeus was based on his role and his behavior… He is too far gone, he is not a good person, he is not like us (filled w/pride)!In other words, there’s some self-righteousness here… a focus on other people’s behaviors and sin over our own!And honestly, maybe that is where some of you find yourself this morning…focusing on other people’s sins and behaviors…and what’s really going on is a self-righteousness issue… (my story)And so maybe you need to have a conversation w/Jesus and ask Him to reveal why that’s there? B/C Jesus said His mission was to seek and save the lost…and if you’ve accepted Christ, then guess where He lives now?Yeah in you! And so you share His mission. So what is it that is going on to cause this self-righteousness over and above people who are lost instead of sharing His heart FOR them?And that is what we should all be looking for if we know Christ…if He expresses His Life and mission through us, and His mission is to seek & save the lost, then He will be looking to do that through you & me! Are we looking for Him to seek and save the lost through us, or are we still consumed with ourselves in our flesh and trying to judge others to justify ourselves when we’ve already been justified by Him?Finally, in this encounter we see Zacchaeus the free man! Once He accepted Christ, he was free from the enslavement to his possessions and what he was trying to use them for to justify himself.So as a result, he gave freely…And the same thing applies to all of us who have been set free by Christ as well. We are free to give of ourselves, to give of our possessions, and to live a life giving and serving others b/c we have all we need in Christ!So overall there are so many different areas Jesus could be speaking to us this morning through this encounter…He may want to release you from the hold possessions have on you.He may want to release you from the hold your self-righteousness has over you…He may be revealing to you that He is on mission through you to seek and save the lost…He may be saying to you if you don’t know Him yet to climb up into the sycamore tree so you can see who He is for yourself…Or He may be revealing your own lostness and need for Him already and leading you to respond by taking a step of faith this morning…However He is leading you this morning, my prayer is that you will say yes to Him…let’s pray.