Small Man, Big Changes
March 29, 2020 | Randy Smith
Small Man, Big Changes
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Pastor Randy Smith
Good morning once again, Grace Bible Church family! On behalf of the leaders we hope and pray that all of you are staying healthy and that all of you are making the best of this present situation. As of now, we have completed contacting every person in our church directory. And I am pleased to report that all of you are doing well spiritually. Many have even mentioned that this has been a time of spiritual growth for you. That greatly encourages our hearts as mature sheep are prepared for these situations and mature sheep know at times that they need to feed themselves. As each day passes, we look forward with greater anticipation to the time we can be reunited.
Today, as we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we are introduced to two new figures. One is a blind man, named Bartimaeus and the other is a short man, named Zaccheus. I will touch on the Bartimaeus account but will devote the majority of this message to the Zaccheus account.
Just briefly by way of review, you know that we have already been introduced to several figures over the past few weeks. These were all test cases to show what true salvation in a person’s life looks like. Overall, it is (18:15-17) childlike faith. True salvation is receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior in total helplessness and with total dependency.
So, on the positive side of childlike faith, there was the leper (17:15-16) who fell at the feet of Jesus and with gratitude glorified God with a loud voice.
Then on the negative side we read about the Pharisee (18:11-12). He boasted in his self-righteousness, compared himself to others and believed God owed him salvation.
On the positive side then came the tax collector (18:13) who was unwilling to look toward heaven, but was beating his breasts saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner.”
Then on the negative side we learned about the Rich Young Ruler (18:21-23) who thought he obeyed all of God’s commands and then refused to follow the one command Jesus asked of him.
And then on the positive side we have the blind man named, Bartimaeus. He cried out to Jesus for mercy (18:38) to which Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well” (18:42). As a result (18:43) he followed Jesus and glorified Him.
Discussion 1—Why don’t you pause the video and based on all we have covered in the past few weeks, discuss what features separate these negative and the positive examples as it pertains to salvation.
Do you see how Luke in these later chapters seesaws this thing though his gospel? Now if we follow the pattern, we’d be expected to be introduced to another negative example. On the contrary, we get another positive example. Let’s look at the testimony regarding a man named, Zacchaeus. Our main point – A positive example of true salvation.
Let’s read this section together beginning in verse 1 of chapter 19.
“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’” (Lk. 19:1-10).
So, you know the format. Let’s go through four points with three more discussion questions along the way.
The Man (verses 1-4)
So, first in verses 1-4, we are introduced to “The Man.” He’s called by name in verse 2 and if we know anything about Zaccheus (as we were taught in the children’s song) it is that he was a “wee little man”’ Verse 3 confirms that he was “small in stature.”
But what else can we learn about this man from verses 1-4? According to verse 2 he was a tax collector and that says a lot. The Jews despised the tax collectors. You’ll remember that these were Jewish citizens who worked for the enemy, the Romans. They were viewed as traitors. They were masters of collecting taxes and then extorting more money for their own personal needs. And as a “chief” tax collector, Zaccheus did it very well. As a result, verse 2, “He was rich.”
Because of this, the tax collectors were viewed as the worst of sinners: greedy, unjust and immoral. Consequently, they were not permitted in the religious life of Israel. You couldn’t even go to their home or have them in your home. They lived a life of isolation with other companions often consisting only of prostitutes and other tax collectors.
The story continues. Since the man knows Jesus is coming to his hometown of Jericho, verse 3 tells us he wanted to see Jesus. This would have been a short time Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany. Everybody wanted to see Jesus! Unfortunately, two things worked against Zaccheus: big crowds and low height. So, verse 4 says he “climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him.” We are not informed of his motives, but for a chief tax collector to perform the undignified action of climbing a tree, the man clearly was intent on seeing Jesus. That is all we can be certain of at this point.
The Must (verses 5–7)
Let’s go from “The Man” to “The Must.”
Look with me at verse 5. “When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’”
So, a lot is rightly made of this verse. For starters it is interesting that Jesus in the frenzy of this massive crowd not only calls out Zacchaeus, but also mentions him by name. And second, is the radical fact that Jesus actually invites Himself over to Zaccheus’ home in front of all the people. Let’s remember, you didn’t do this! You didn’t go in a tax collector’s home. And having a meal with someone like this signified sharing in their corruption. No wonder, verse 7, “When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’”
But what a lot of people miss in verse 5 is the word, “must.” Jesus said, “I must stay at your house.” Why must Jesus go to the house of Zaccheus? Clearly it would destroy His reputation and furthermore, Zaccheus has nothing to offer to Jesus. Why must Jesus go there?
Discussion 2—Why don’t you pause the video and try to answer that question. Why must Jesus go to the house of Zaccheus?
We can call this “divine necessity.” We see the same with the “Woman at the Well” in John 4. The text says Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” (Jn. 4:4). Normally Jews would go around Samaria, but Jesus had to pass through Samaria. Why? Because there was a person there that needed to be saved.
In these verses we are given a beautiful picture of Jesus. There are so many wonderful attributes that we place before His name or use to describe His character, but there is one that often goes unmentioned. How about the title “Seeker?” And that title is so appropriate in this section!
First because if we are truly spiritual babies, we can’t seek Jesus, but rather He must seek us. In Romans 3 weread, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD” (Rom. 3:10–11). Sure, we seek God when we come to Him for salvation, but that is only after He first seeks us.
And second, the main point of this account emphasizes Jesus as the seeking God. Verse 10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
And when Jesus seeks us, we respond to His irresistible grace with great joy. Verse 6, “And [Zaccheus] hurried and came down and received [Jesus] gladly. What a contrast from the general population in verse 7 that was “grumbling.”
The Movement (verse 8)
Let’s move to the third point which I am calling “The Movement.”
You’ll remember we were introduced to a different Tax Collector a few weeks ago. He beat his breasts and cried out to the Lord for mercy (18:13). In verse 14, Jesus says he was “justified,” he was “exalted,” in other words, he was saved.
Great story, but only half of the salvation picture. Today’s account with this tax collector fills in the second half of the salvation picture. And here it is: salvation is by our faith in Jesus alone, not our works, but when we are truly saved by Jesus it will always result in a changed life that results in good works as evidence of our salvation.
So, I believe we need to fill some details in between verses 7 and 8.
The story goes from the man in tree (verse 4) to the conclusion of the time in his home (verse 9). So, Zacchaeus opens his home to Jesus. Jesus shares with him the Gospel of salvation. Zaccheusreceives Christ as Lord and Savior. Yet before Jesus confirms his salvation (in verse 9), Luke includes the content found in verse 8.
This is very interesting. It seems almost immediately, clearly at the same meal, that Zaccheus has a radical change of heart. In a short amount of time he goes from extortionist to philanthropist, taker to giver, selfish to unselfish and greedy to gracious. How do you explain that? This my friends is evidence of salvation! And true evidence of salvation is always a changed heart that shows the power of God at work.
Look with me at verse 8. “Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’”
So right off the bat, half of his money goes to the poor and the remaining half was used to compensate all the people he defrauded at a 400% interest rate. Could you imagine the people that must have lined up when this statement went public? This is faith with works! This is the result of being saved by God’s powerful grace.
Discussion 3—Please pause the video and discuss how our “works” do not save us but do give evidence that we are truly saved.
The Mission (verses 9–10)
And our final point, “The Mission.”
The timing of verse 9 is very significant. Of course, we are saved by faith alone and grace alone and Jesus alone, but isn’t it interesting that as a response to Zaccheus’ transformation of heart, Jesus then announced in verse 9, “Today salvation has come to this house.” The proclamation of his salvation by Christ is tied not to his proclamation of faith but rather his repentance. And isn’t it interesting that the Jews, who assumed they were a lock for salvation because they were “sons of Abraham,” were actually lost and the one they deemed to be lost in this Tax Collector was actually deemed a “son of Abraham” by Jesus
Discussion 4—Pause the video one final time. Read Luke 3:7–9. Discuss how this passage applies to what we have been studying today. Then read Luke 3:12–13.
So, as we wrap things up, what is the mission of Jesus? Verse 10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Has Jesus found you? Did you notice how He passed over the grumbling crowds and came to the heart that received Him gladly. Has Jesus found you? You know it if you receive Him gladly and show the transforming power of His grace by bearing fruits of repentance.
And if you are not in Christ, possibly today determined from eternity past, is your day of salvation. If so, will you right now like Zaccheus, believe in the finished work of Jesus to remove your sins and will you receive Him gladly in your life.