SITTING IN A TREE
This series looks at different passages that highlight Jesus’ pursuit of those many would label “outcasts.” In the series, Pastor Tito will discuss characters like Zacchaeus, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, a leper, and the thief on the cross, and others. In each of these situations, Jesus often goes out of His way to reach the outcasts of society. His love is extravagant and relentless.
In this message, Pastor Tito shows us how Jesus went out of His way to reach one person even though He was on His way to save the entire world on the cross.
Read the SERMON SUMMARY below
If you could ask people to describe their typical day in one word, would you be surprised if anyone would use the word “Busy”. I’ve found myself more than once complaining about not having enough time. In reality I’m upset about the fact that I have managed my time poorly and I don’t have any time left to do what really matters. But if I did that, I would have to own up to my own poor choices.
We all know what it’s like to be busy, but how do you feel when you busy plans are interrupted? I know the tiny hairs on the back of your neck just stood up hearing that because no one likes being interrupted, especially if we are busy doing something important. If we could have our way, we would avoid any unnecessary distractions as much as possible. Who would welcome or even purposefully interrupt their own plans? I know one who did.
If anyone could be justified in using the description “Busy” to describe their way it would be Jesus. You can get any busier than trying to save the entire human race. About three years have passed since Jesus began His ministry, and He is about to go down the final stretch that would lead Him to the cross. This is when Jesus goes out of His way to reach out to a single outcast.
“He entered Jericho and was passing through.” Luke 19:1
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem where He will be received as a conquering King, only to be crucified seven days later. Here we see that He chose to take a detour THROUGH the city of Jericho while making His way to His destiny. Even though Jesus was about to give His life for every person who had ever lived, Jesus was willing to be interrupted for the sake of one man who wanted to meet Him. To Jesus, everyone matters.
“2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.” Luke 19:2
Tax collectors were considered outcasts in Israel because they had turned their back on their countrymen, choosing to work for their oppressors. The Roman empire. These officials were not forced to do this job. They willingly signed up because of the promises of money and the possibilities that all of that would give Him.
Like most tax collectors, we know that Zaccheaus was rich because they made their wealth by over charging the taxpayers, giving to Rome what each one owned as they would pocket the rest. You can see why tax collectors were not popular with their countrymen.
“3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.” Luke 19:3-4
Not only do we know that Zaccheaus had all the money he needed to buy whatever he wanted, we also know he was short. What strikes me about Zaccheaus is his determination to see what was so special about Jesus. His money couldn’t get him access to Jesus despite the large crowdsseeing. But instead of going home, Zaccheaus climbs a tree to get the best glimpse he could get of Jesus. Remember, he’s a short guy.
“5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:5-10
Jesus had to come to Zaccheaus because Zaccheaus couldn’t get to him, and his life was never the same again. Jesus’ statement, “Salvation has come to this home” is a declaration that God can do all things, even redeem such a horrible sinner like this tax collector. No outcast can ever out-sin God’s love.
Zaccheaus’ promise to right his wrongs is not why he was saved. We are given a glimpse of his faith for having received Jesus joyfully (verse). This is what happens when you allow Jesus into your life. He changes everything for the better!
“I must stay at your house today”
Jesus went out of his way to die for the whole world just to give life to one outcast! The words that Jesus spoke to Zaccheaus still ring true for everyone today. We MUST receive Jesus and His atoning work on the cross. Not tomorrow and not someday. We must do it TODAY. Jesus’ wasn’t going to come back to Jericho. This was his last chance.
Today, at this moment, every unbeliever and returner is being given the same opportunity to repent and turn to God. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. For every believer who has already accepted Jesus, we have a different objective today. We must allow our Savior to involve us in His efforts to save and seek the lost. Not tomorrow or someday. This is our task for today.
For Jesus to be able to stay at Zaccheaus’ “house”, he had to first come down from the tree. The same goes for us today. The tree, much like Zaccheaus, had limitations. They were not tall enough or good enough to get to Jesus. Many people around the world are climbing trees called success, money, pleasure, possessions, fame, and self only to realize that they are falling short of what they are missing
To quote the Apostle Paul, we have all fallen SHORT of God’s standards (Romans 3:23). Zaccheaus knew this. His confession reveals his remorse and understanding of his own sins. But notice that Zaccheaus accepted Jesus into his house before he could ever get his spiritual house in order. That’s because no amount of good deeds would have earned him the salvation that he received that day through faith.
How amazing to see that even though Zaccheaus couldn’t get to Jesus, Jesus went out of His way to come to him instead. May we learn this valuable lesson in this short story. Zacchause climbed a tree to get to Jesus and failed. But Jesus was crucified on a tree to get to us and succeeded! Get down from whatever tree you may find yourself on now in your pursuit of fulfillment. Accept Jesus and watch the difference He will make in your life. When you do, you will wish that you would’ve done so sooner.