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Unity Sunday… Jesus finds Zaccheus

Unity Sunday… Jesus finds Zaccheus

 

Everything you need to preach this sermon yourself…

Jesus Finds Zaccheus

Quotes from the sermon I used in Social media posts

  • A relationship with Jesus is the ultimate recovery movement. Recovering who he created us to be.
  • I believe that there is no place where spiritual transformation takes place better than when a person is plugged into a local church
  • We don’t go to church. We are the Church. We’re plugged in. We’re using our gifts. The Church is our family
  • Lost people don’t need our music, our wisdom, our nice facilities, or our great sermons. They need Jesus!
  • What all followers of Jesus have in common is a desire to see Jesus and a joy from being in his presence
  • Anyone who desires to see Jesus will, and in turn, be seen by Jesus and in this way have their joy made complete

Outline I used for the sermon

What is he looking for

  • What makes Zacchaeus so special is that he was an average man.”
  • Some of you, you’re living for a dad who’s no longer alive. You’re living for a mom who will never give you what you want. You’re living for an ex spouse. You’ve got to please them.

Read Luke 19:1-10 here

Why is God seeking him

  • Jesus called Zacchaeus by name!
  • The Christian faith is the ultimate “recovery” movement

How God finds lost people

  • I believe with all my heart that there is no place where spiritual transformation takes place better than when a person is plugged into a local church. We don’t go to church. We are the church. We’re plugged in. We’re using our gifts. This is our family.
  • keep one’s distance from morally suspect practices. This principle is a good one. However, it risks being applied so thoroughly that one ceases to associate with unbelievers for fear of what comes with the relationship. It can be difficult to build the relationships on which much evangelism depends.
  • We do too little of sharing our testimony in our communities as an act that can bind us together.

Reward of seeking God

  • anyone who desires to see Jesus will, in turn, be seen by Jesus and in this way have their joy made complete.
  • that in the presence of Jesus unimagined things can happen such as even a wealthy tax collector might give away half his wealth.

Ideas for Small Group Questions

  • Read Luke 19:1-10
  • Has anyone outside of a church setting tried to help you find Jesus?
  • Have you ever tried to help someone outside of a church setting find Jesus?
  • How have you tried to help a family member grow closer to Jesus?
  • What’s the hardest part of helping your co-workers look to Jesus?
  • Do you have any bad experiences that happened at work because you tried to help someone spiritually?
  • Read John 13:35 –  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
  • What is Jesus asking his disciples to do?
  • How did Jesus do this with Zaccheus?
  • Read Luke 19:10.  What effect did Jesus’ death and resurrection have on this?
  • Have you ever backed away from sharing Jesus with someone because you assumed they would reject you for it?
  • What relationships are coming to mind where you need to help point someone to Jesus?
  • What will be the hardest thing to change in your life about helping others to find Jesus?

Random Resource Material

Jerusalem. This kind of healing, this kind of new life, he seems to be saying, is what Jesus has come to bring. If only people in Jerusalem could see the point and make a similar response!

Nobody in Jericho liked Zacchaeus. They would have been horrified to think that, of all the inhabitants of the town, he would be the one known by name to millions of people two thousand years later.

The final comment points ahead once more, up the steep and dusty road to Jerusalem. We are almost there. The prophets have spoken of the fate that awaits the son of man; but his mission is not just to suffer and die, but rather, through that fate, to search out and rescue the lost sheep. ‘He has gone in to spend time with a sinner’ will soon change to ‘He has gone out to die with the brigands’; and the same reason will underlie both. The son of man has come to seek and save the lost.

Jesus’ stay with the tax collector is a necessity because it pictures what his ministry is all about—to lead to God those whom others have given up on, to call those who, like the tax collector Levi, need to repent (5:31–32). His mission is to reclaim the prodigals (ch. 15) and justify the humble (18:9–14).

His commitment to sinners has been affirmed throughout this Gospel

This text pictures the initiative Jesus undertakes to reveal this divine commitment. God reaches out to accept the sinner who discovers he or she can turn to God.

The transformation of his heart in openness toward God expresses itself in openness toward needy people. Such faith is not an intellectual exercise; it is a change of worldview.

Furthermore, we are warned by this passage that how our community judges us in our associations is not necessarily how God judges.

The church must become the means for restoring the lost and rejected by seeking them out, not by remaining isolated from them.

Usually two factors feed such isolation: (1) a healthy desire not to succumb to standards of living that destroy moral integrity, and (2) a subtle but deadly feeling of superiority, so that we feel we are inherently better than others (much like the attitude of the Jews that Paul condemns in Rom. 2). This second element in the equation can squeeze out our ability to empathize with the sinner’s plight. It forgets that our blessing is the result of God’s gracious work, not our inherent character.

To want to live a moral life is part of God’s call for believers. Along with that is the desire to keep one’s distance from morally suspect practices. This principle is a good one. However, it risks being applied so thoroughly that one ceases to associate with unbelievers for fear of what comes with the relationship. It can be difficult to build the relationships on which much evangelism depends.

They were willing to risk a moment or two of discomfort for the sake of getting to know those who needed Christ. They have seen many come to Christ, because they have remained open to truly befriending the lost.

Those of us who did not grow up in the church often are brought to the Lord, as I was, by such friendships.

A transformed faith responds to wronging others differently than our instincts do. Our instincts tell us not to admit our wrongs and to cover up any signs of weakness.

One of the most painful things we can do in a relationship is to commit a wrong and then pretend it never happened or did not do any damage. Such blindness builds up resentment and eats away at the relationship. Admitting wrong, asking for forgiveness, and trying to make restitution are like a spring shower that can open up the possibility of a fresh start.

The Christian faith is the ultimate “recovery” movement, because what is recovered is the fundamental relationship with God that allows recovery in other areas to take place.

We do too little of sharing our testimony in our communities as an act that can bind us together. A church made up of “perfect” people

God, may we not only be satisfied with the lane that we’re in, but may we embrace it, running it faithfully to please you knowing we cannot win anyone else’s race. God, nobody can beat us at being us. Help us, God, to do what you created us to do to find joy in it, running to please and to serve you.

You cannot win anyone else’s race, so what do you do? You wake up every day with your eyes on Christ. Who or what will define your worth? “Jesus will define my worth. This is who he created me to be. This is the race he called me to run. I’ve got a purpose to fulfill. I’ve got a mission to accomplish. I’ve got people to love. I’ve got a family to raise. I’ve got a church to build. I’ve got some pens to collect. This is my race.” Run your race, run it with perseverance, and run it with purpose in every step. When you do, you will not receive an earthly crown that passes away, but you will receive a heavenly crown that never ever fades. That is winning your race.

There was a note that said, “Congratulations. You’ve served Jesus faithfully for a year. You live with integrity. You loved your church and you led well without scandal and we praise God for you.”

I believe with all my heart that there is no place where spiritual transformation takes place better than when a person is plugged into a local church. I’m not talking about those of you that come once a month. I’m glad you do that. There’s not much that’s going to happen from that, but it’s better than nothing. I’m talking about, this is home, roots, serving. We don’t go to church. We are the church. We’re plugged in. We’re using our gifts. This is our family. This is who we are. I believe that life change happens best when we’re plugged into the local church. Leaders, for a long time, I squelched this passion because pastors don’t build leaders. Pastors pastor churches. I’m no longer squelching it. I’m created by God to help leaders succeed. It’s a calling. I’m going to do it and I’m not going to apologize for it, and that’s what we do. We don’t just recruit volunteers, we release leaders because volunteers do good things but leaders change the world. This is what I feel called to do, to invest in the emerging generation and have them stand on my shoulders, do way more than I could ever do. It’s a calling. It’s what I do.

You need to understand, there’s not enough -er and there’s not enough -est in the world to satisfy the spiritual brokenness that we have inside. You can’t have enough money, you can’t get enough likes, there aren’t enough followers, there’s not enough attention, there’s never a right relationship, a good enough house, the perfect vacation. You can look for it and look for it and look for it, but there is nothing on the outside designed by God to satisfy you on the inside beside the God who created you. This is why it’s ignorant, it’s stupid, it’s useless, it’s a waste of time, it’s destructive, it’s hurtful, makes you feel superior or inferior and neither honors God.

There is no external win that will ever satisfy the internal longing that we have. What do we do? I can look to the outside. “Am I worthy? Tell me, did I do good enough? Do I belong? Do I have enough popularity that I finally matter? Do I fit in? Do you think I’m cool now because I’m wearing this? Do you think, did I live up to your expectations? Was I what you wanted me to be?” There’s never an external answer that ever satisfies and meets that internal need, and that’s why we have to answer this very important question and we have to get it right or we will be miserable and we will be dissatisfied for the remainder of our life.

This very important question is so simple but it is life-changing to get it right. The question is this: who or what is going to define my worth? Who or what is going to define my worth? Because if I can get up in your business just a little bit, some of you, you’re living for a dad who’s no longer alive. You’re living for a mom who will never give you what you want. You’re living for an ex spouse, “I’ll show him,” whatever. He’s not even thinking about you. You’re living for your friends, you’re living for them, whoever “them” is. You’ve got to please them.

Everybody simply wants -er. Whatever someone else has, they want that plus -er. They want to be rich – er, happy -er, better -er, more superior and that’s why we’re all strong -er, fast – er, whatever it is with -er. “I want what you have plus -er.”

The problem is, “I don’t just want -er, I want -est.” Anybody know what I’m talking about? If we’re running a race, “I don’t want to be fast -er, I want to be fast -est. I don’t want to be just great -er, I want to be great -est.” If we’re talking about churches, “I don’t want to just have a bigg -er church, I want to have the bigg -est church.” Can I be that honest with you? Is there anybody else in the house today that can be honest like that?

Do you long for change in your life? Does it seem impossible? As a minister, I’ve worked with people who have good intentions: addicted people who see the destruction their addictions wreak on their families, who long to be free, but just keep on drinking or overspending or overworking. I’ve talked with fathers and mothers caught up in the race to get ahead financially who hate not spending enough time with their children, but they feel powerless to break the pattern. I’ve talked with people with controlling, negative spirits who long to be a positive influence in their families, church, and community, but who cannot break free of their need to criticize and control. I’ve talked with people who have dreams such as creating something good, writing a book that will help people, going back to school to train for a job that will be more fulfilling. But day after day passes and they just can’t take the step to move toward the dream. I’ve talked with Christians who long to be more and do more for God, day after day passes and they can’t seem to get there. So many of us are stuck.

See, it’s not enough to say, “I want Jesus to forgive my sin, but I’m really frustrated when he forgives the sin of someone who’s sinned against me.” Friends, we can’t receive grace without rejoicing when others receive it. And we can’t receive the grace of God without sharing it. So Zacchaeus realizes that God has been generous to me, I need to be generous with others. ’Cause he just met the most generous person in the history of the world, Jesus Christ.

The crowd, not really joyful. They’re not all Tweeting, “Yay! Zacchaeus got saved! We’re so excited!” They are grumbling. This means they’re talking about Zacchaeus, but not to Zacchaeus. They’re talking about Jesus, but not to Jesus. They’re gossiping and grumbling.

Or perhaps Zacchaeus simply represents the chief attribute of all disciples: a desire to see Jesus and a corresponding joy in his presence. Zacchaeus cannot see Jesus because he is too short, both physically and morally, and so the crowds impede his sight. Yet this rich chief tax collector is so desperate to see that he will not be deterred and humiliates himself by climbing a tree like a child in order to glimpse over the crowd and see Jesus. Read this way, this story is not about formulas regarding repentance and forgiveness — indeed, as in other places in Luke, it calls into question any attempts to reduce the miracle of salvation to a formula (see Luke 7:36-50). Rather, it embodies the promise that anyone — anyone! — who desires to see Jesus will. More than that, anyone who desires to see Jesus will, in turn, be seen by Jesus and in this way have their joy made complete.

From the outset of Luke’s gospel and throughout its narrative, Jesus sides with those on the margin, those considered down and out, those not accounted as much in the eyes of the world.

that in the presence of Jesus all manner of heretofore unimagined things can happen such that even a wealthy tax collector might give away half his wealth.

An application we must make as a church and as individual followers of Christ is to keep that need at the forefront of all we do. Lost people don’t need our music, our wisdom, our nice facilities, or our great sermons. They need Jesus! Music, facilities, and preaching are wonderful tools if they help people connect with Christ. You may recall the Steve Green song that asked the penetrating question,”When will we realize that people need the Lord?” Zacchaeus needed Jesus, and so does a lost and dying world.

What makes Zacchaeus so special is that he was an average man.”

Maybe you have met him too . . .

Zacchaeus was short in stature. People recognized him by his size. Maybe you know some people who are identified by some physical characteristic. You make judgments about people because they are tall, pretty, have red or blonde hair, bald, ugly, fat, rich, or poor. The sad reality in our western culture is that we often assign value to a person based on physical appearance.

But Jesus called Zacchaeus by name!

One of the finest families we have in the congregation where I preach is black, but he doesn’t let the prejudices of a few keep him from seeing Jesus.

Since he was little, the crowd got in his way. It is ironic that often those who also want to see Jesus get in the way of others.

Why are riches so hard to overcome? First, because they bind us to this life. We can see no further than this world and thus rely on the material possessions for happiness.

He would not let what others think of him as a person keep him from seeing the Lord. Littleness in a person often comes out when he gives excuses for not obeying the gospel, or for not doing more in the work of the Lord. “I would do more, but I simply cannot work with Brother Know-It-All.” Or, “If that is the kind of ‘Christians’ they have in ‘that church’, then I want no part of it.”