Proper 26 – Pentecost 21
03 November 2019
"Salvation has come to this house!"
Jesus does the unexpected. He calls to this chief tax collector by name. "Zaachaeus, come down; for I must stay at your house today." Jesus sides with those on the margins. Those considered down and out. Those not accounted as much in the eyes of the world.
Everything about this story seems impossible. -- That a chief tax collector would want to see Jesus. That Jesus would stay in his home. That it would be revealed that this sinner exceeded the law by his generosity. That Jesus would declare not just him but his whole household saved?
Yet Jesus has already declared that what is impossible for man is nevertheless possible for God. (Luke 18:27) Zaachaeus is one more example of the impossible possibility. Jesus receives sinners. In the life of Zaachaeus. The evidence of repentance is self-evident. Jesus exclaims, "Salvation has come to this house!" Friedheim! “Peace has come to this home!"
In setting the scene in this account. Told only by Luke. Three details stand out – sight wealth, and stature.
Sight - In the passage immediately before this one, a blind man receives sight and, in response, follows Jesus and glorifies God. Now, Zaachaeus desires to see Jesus. But even as he is trying to catch a glimpse of this prophet. Who is passing through. Jesus looks up. Calls him down. And honors him by coming to stay at his home.
Wealth - In the previous chapter - a rich man. When asked to give away all he had. Departs from Jesus in sadness. When Jesus declares that it is nearly impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples. - Who like most of their peers believed wealth a sign of God's favor - are incredulous.
While Zaachaeus is rich. He is nevertheless despised by his neighbors. Counted as nothing. Even as worse than nothing. Yet Jesus singles him out. Jesus declares for all to hear. That this one. Even this chief tax collector. Is a child of Abraham...and child of God. Jesus is again at work. Seeking out those who are lost. In order to find. Save. And restore them.
Statute - Zaachaeus is short. Not just in physical stature. But also in terms of his moral standing among his neighbors who, no doubt, despised him; hence their reaction when Jesus invites himself to Zaachaeus' home. This is not the first time bystanders have been outraged by Jesus' behavior. Think of Simon's reaction. - That Jesus would allow a woman. All known to have a poor reputation. To wash his feet with her tears. (Luke 7:39) Or the reaction of the Pharisees. To the sinners and tax collectors who loved to listen to Jesus (Luke 15:1-2).
This is not the first time tax collectors have figured prominently in Jesus' ministry. Their delight in Jesus' teaching prompts the people to grumble. It is the penitent tax collector. Not the righteous Pharisee. Who returns to his home justified. (Luke 17:14).
1. Zaachaeus is included a son of Abraham
A. Jesus is traveling. Passing through Jericho. The home of the Samaritans. Jesus is passing through. On his way to Jerusalem. Very shortly. He will be there. In order to do a mighty work. Jesus is going to pay off the big debt that we all owe. Jesus is the great sin collector of all time. He takes up all our sins. And carries them to the cross. And pays them off. With His holy precious blood.
All of Jesus’ goods –His righteousness. His forgiveness. His life. His salvation–Behold, the whole of His goods.–Not half of them. But all of them. He gives to the poor. To poor miserable sinners. Like you and me and Zaachaeus. Our tax bill now reads: “Debt paid in full.” Date - Good Friday. Signed, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
1. Jesus calls Zaachaeus by name. "Zaachaeus, hurry and come down for today I must stay at your house!" V5 It’s His opportunity to call Zaachaeus back home to God. To call you to repentance and faith–Faith in Him. The Savior of sinners. So Jesus invites Himself over. He must go to Zaachaeus’ house today.
2. There's the natural reaction from Jesus' detractors, "He has gone to lodge at the home of a man who is a sinner." v7 The crowd - Refuse to see Zaachaeus any different than a sinner. Zaachaeus is short of righteousness. Therefore he can't see Jesus. But he desires to see Jesus. So he finds a way. By going ahead to where Jesus will go.
B. The Holy Spirit calls gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps.
1. In the 1st. Century, Luke would remind us, "The Lord was adding daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2
2. Today, the Lord continues to add to our midst. Do we receive them with joy? Do we welcome them? Or, do we look down at them with disdain? The hymn writer would remind us: “Father welcomes all His children to His family through His Son. Father giving His salvation. Life forever has been won.” [Lutheran Service Book #605]
Transition: Jesus welcomed Zaachaeus. We welcome others. Notice the transformation in the life of Zaachaeus.
2. He demonstrates in his life the genuine fruits of faith
A. He ran ahead. Luke 19:4 "He ran on ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way." Zaachaeus was looking where Jesus would be found. Wise men still seek Him. In those places He promised He would be found – In His Word. In His promise of forgiveness. In the elements of water, wafer and wine.
B. He received Jesus with joy. Luke 19:6 "He hurried, came down, and received him joyfully." Because Jesus comes bringing forgiveness into that house. That’s just what Zaachaeus needs. It’s what we all need, really.
C. His life was transformed. Luke 19:8 "Zaachaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much." This is repentance. Zaachaeus has come to grips with his sins. He’s acknowledged them. And is turning away from them. Jesus has that effect on people. The joy of Zaachaeus is the joy of repentance. It’s the joy of finding forgiveness in Christ for all your sins. It’s the joy of finally being found. When you have been lost. Lost in your own messed-up life of sin.
“Zaachaeus was a ‘we’ little man”– Zaachaeus was a lot like “we” are. You and I. He was a sinner. Weighed down with a load of guilt. Just like we are. Zaachaeus was a little man. Who did the little things. The shady things. To work to his own advantage. Just like we do. Maybe fudging on the figures just a bit. I’m sure that in the ledger book of sins. God could find sins that we do that are in the same bracket as those of Zaachaeus. Zaachaeus was a “we little man” in more ways than one.
But no matter how tall or how short you are. No matter how rich. Or how poor. Whether you’re up in a tree. Or out on a limb. If you know you’d be lost without Him. Then Jesus is looking for you today. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” So come down from that lofty perch and greet the Lord Jesus. Into your house. Into your family. Into your life.
Words – 1,270
Passive Sentences –3%
Readability – 80.9%
Reading Level – 3.7