“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come
down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
Do you know the expression, “you read my mind”? Many times in my life I have experienced that Jesus had read my mind. For example, last two weeks we had guests from Germany, missionary Samuel and Hanna Ryu from Meinz UBF. We have prayed to share love of God with them. We want to give them some special treatment. God helped us to find a way to send them to Grand Canyon. When they came to LA, there was no tour company which could bring them to Grand Canyon. It seemed the only way was for one of us to drive. But that would not be best idea because it is a long drive, and they would not be able to enjoy husband and wife fellowship. Then finally God helped us to find a way to send them by using Greyhound.
But still we want to give them some special treatment, a memorable one. Then God helped us to give them “foot massage”. When I visited Beijin in China in 2005, missionary Johannes Moon invited me to foot massage. It was a special treatment which I never forgot. I did not know 10 years late the same kind of massage was available in LA, and the price was not expensive. But to invite them to foot massage was completely unexpected. We did not plan it. What happened was they and Maria and I had a lunch in Korea town. Then Maria wanted to visit a nursery to buy something on our way to Hollywood. So we went to find the nursery. But we could not find it. In the course of finding a nursery, we found one “foot massage” place, and we could give them special treatment. So I felt Jesus knew how much we wanted to give them special treatment and he used our plan to find the nursery to give them special foot massage.
Jesus knows our heart desire. In today’s passage, we see Jesus knew the name of Zacchaeus, and what he really wanted. When Jesus said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” it was what Zacchaeus really wanted. Such deep and personal knowledge of Jesus moved the heart of Zacchaeus. It led him to repentance and salvation came to him. So let us see how it happened. My message has two parts. Part I. He wanted to see who Jesus was. (v.1-4) Part II. Zacchaeus, come down immediately (v.5-10)
Part I. He wanted to see who Jesus was. (v.1-4)
Look at verses 1-4.
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. 3 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.
Today’s event happened as Jesus was passing through Jericho. Jesus did not plan to do stay in the city, but he just wanted to pass through. He was resolutely heading for Jerusalem where he would be crucified. But something happened.
There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. As you know, tax collector was regarded as a sinner like prostitutes. To the Jews, tax collectors sold their identity as God’s chosen people for money. Prostitutes sold their bodies for money. So they regarded both of them as same sinners. But Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector. It means he must have had an excellent performance as a tax collector, and reached the top, a chief tax collector. And of course he was rich because all tax collectors chose their job to become rich. But that was not all he had.
He had something else. Verse 3a reads, “He wanted to see who Jesus was”. He had desire to know who Jesus was. The expression, “to see who Jesus was” is different from the expression, “to see Jesus”. Zecchaeus wanted to know WHO JESUS WAS. It was not merely seeing Jesus. He wanted to know who Jesus was.
His desire to see who Jesus was not just a mere thought. Verses 3b and 4 reads, “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.” He had such a strong desire to see who Jesus was that he climbed a sycamore-fig tree. Being a chief tax collector, probably he was not a young man anymore. He was probably middle aged man. He also had a position in his community. But he did not mind climbing the tree like children to see who Jesus was. He really wanted to see who Jesus was.
Why did he want to see who Jesus was? We don’t know. But it was clear that he must have heard about Jesus. And he must have thought that something was special about Jesus. He might have heard that Jesus opened the eyes of a blind beggar who cried out to him, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”
Whatever the reason was Zecchaeus really wanted to see who Jesus was. But when he wanted to see who Jesus was, he had an obstacle. He was short.
Being a short is not a problem in our country because we have many tall people. But when I grew up in Korea, if you are short as a man, you have disadvantage especially when you want to marry. Being a short can be, depending upon the culture and situation, a serious shortcoming. We don’t know the situation of Zecchaeus. But surely it was an obstacle for him when he wanted to see who Jesus was. He could not see over the crowd. So he had to find a way, and it was to climb a sycamore fig tree.
Part II. Zacchaeus, come down immediately (v.5-10)
Look at verses 5-6.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
When Jesus reached the tree where Zacchaeus climbed up Jesus had an eye contact with him, and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaues must have been greatly shocked when Jesus called him by name. They never met each other in the past. It was their first meeting. But Jesus knew his name.
Jesus knew not only Zacchaeus’ name but also the desire of his heart. Jesus said to him, ““Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Jesus changed his plan to pass through Jericho for this one man, a chief tax collector. He decided to stay in Zacchaeus’ house. When Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” Zecchaeus heard the gentle and graceful and loving voice of his Messiah who knew the heart desire of him, and how much he wanted to see who Jesus was.
Jesus knows our names. Jesus knows what we really wanted. Jesus recognizes our heart desires and our effort to come to him. Jesus honors it.
There was another young man I knew. He really wanted to do something eternal in his life. As he saw all his works in his company did not produce anything eternal. The Lord knew his heart desire and how much he wanted to do something eternal. Eventually the Lord blessed him to open his spiritual eyes and to do something eternal – to share how much the Lord has done for him through 1:1 bible studies after his work.
Surely Jesus knows our names. He knows what we really want and how much we want.
Look at Psalm 139:1-4
“1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
Our life examples shows us how much the Lord knows us personally.
Before marriage, shepherdess Connie had 1:1 bible study with missionary Rebekah Kim who is in Redding now. Shepherdess Connie also had to have many talks with missionary Rebekah. I think it was almost on a daily basis like two hours a day before going to bed. After she married she stopped doing it. So missionary Rebekah Kim told me, “Wow, marriage is so good”. But msn Rebekah wondered how shepherdess Connie suddenly and completely stopped calling her. I was curious too.
Several years later I heard a story from missionary Billy by chance. He told me, “My mother had a hard time with my father. So every night my mother had me sit down and listen to her two to three hours or even five hours. So to listen to shepherdess Connie’s story two hours was a piece of cake.” And I was amazed about the personal knowledge of the Lord for shepherdess Connie. Jesus knew exactly shepherdess Connie needed. She needed someone who could listen to her 2 hours every day. That was why he brought her to missionary Billy.
How does Jesus know us so intimately? It is because He created us. It is also because he became a man like you and me. He went through all of our pains, sufferings, troubles and temptations in life. So when he talks to us, he talks as a man who knows all our agonies and troubles and he knows our heart desire.
In Job 10:4 Job said to God, “Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?” Job said so because he could not believe God would understand the severity of his pain because God was not a man. But the truth is Jesus had eyes of flesh and he could see as a mortal see because he became a mortal.
Can you believe that Jesus knows your name and he knows everything about you? And he uses his intimate knowledge of us to establish love relationship with us. Can you believe he calls you personally and gently and kindly in order to fulfill your dream, the desire of your heart?
When I married, I did not know anything about Maria. I trusted God and my bible teachers and married. I knew exactly what I was doing. Most of all, God knew exactly what I was doing. And I never regretted my decision to marry her even one second in my life even when I had arguments with her. All the time I know it was my best decision in UBF.
Although I knew nothing about Maria, after marriage, I could see several reasons why God joined us together.
Maria trusted me absolutely. My parents trusted me absolutely. Although they were not believers, their trust in me was religious. The absolute trust was given to me, and I knew they did so because they loved me. They never made any negative remarks on me except my mother said to me when I cried, “Why are you crying? Is your mother dead? Or is your father dead?” Then amazingly after I married I found that Maria had such an absolute trust in me. Because of her trust I could grow, while going through many ups and downs.
Maria was also independent. When I married I was weak and fragile. And I had many weaknesses in me including my super sensitive nerve. If she tried to depend on me, I would have been crushed. But she stood on her own feet and pioneered her own life. That was why I could grow on my own.
In addition, she is very stable, calm, and easy, and that was what I needed as a person who was super sensitive and had many weaknesses. Nothing was easy for me, but to her everything seemed to be easy expect bearing me.
Jesus said to Zecchaeus, “Zecchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” He knew exactly what Zecchaeus wanted. The Lord honored his heart desire.
Psalm 37:4 reads, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
The Lord loves us through his intimate knowledge. According to John’s gospel chapter 10, the qualification of the good shepherd is to lay down his life for the sheep and know his sheep.
Jesus knows our names as the good shepherd. And he also reveals who he is to us so that our knowledge would be mutual.
John 10:14 reads, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
In today’s passage, Zacchaeus must have been very happy when he heard Jesus. So he came down at once and welcomed him.
But there were people who were not happy. Look at verse 7. “All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.””
Zacchaeus was clearly a sinner. So they could not know why Jesus had gone to be the guest of a sinner. They probably thought Jesus could have fellowship with other people who were not sinners rather than sinners. They did not understand what Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32 “31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Because all the people thought they were not sinners, they missed Jesus’ blessing – the opportunity to know him personally, and the blessing to see the desire of their hearts to be fulfilled by Jesus.
Now we know why Jesus came to us and called us by name. It is to heal us. It is to restore us. It is to bless us to establish love relationship with him. Jesus loves us even though we know we are sinners. He loves us preciously because we are sinners. So if any of us think he or she is better than others that person is a fool.
Look at verse 8. “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.””
This is Zaccheus’ repentance. He amended his broken relationship with people right there in front of everyone. He publically proclaimed his repentance.
He said to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor.” In the past he did not care about the poor people. His only concern was for him to be rich even at the cost of making others poor. But now he was offering his half of money for the poor people. That was not it. In addition, he publicly announced that he would pay back 4 times of the amount of money if he had cheated anybody out of anything. According to the old testament, 4 or 5 times is the maximum amount of restitution.
His repentance was very specific. It involves a huge sacrifice of his money. Half of his possessions and handsome restitution if necessary. Repentance without change of our lives, repentance without cost, is not true repentance.
Once king David counted the number of fighting men and the Lord struck the Israelites with plague. When David prayed for his people the Lord sent Gad who told him to build an altar on the threshing floor of Aranuah, the Jubusite.
2 Samuel 24:19-24 reads, “19 So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” “To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.” 22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 Your Majesty, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.” 24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.”
David refused to build an altar without his personal cost. He refused to repent without cost.
Jesus was moved by Zacchaeus’ repentance. So Jesus said in verses 9-10. “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.””
Zacchaeus was called as ‘a son of Abraham.’ It means he became a believer. He became a believer of promise given to Abraham. What was the promise given to Abraham?
It was the promise that God would send the Messiah through the line of Abraham. Abraham saw Jesus’ day and was glad. Jesus said in John 8:56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
Abraham believed the coming of Messiah, and he saw it and was glad. Zacchaeus became a son of Abraham. A man who met the Messiah whom Abraham saw by faith. Jesus was the Son of Man and son of David. Zacchaeus was the son of Abraham.
Indeed the salvation came to the house of Zacchaeus because he believed in Jesus and repented. His repentance was not a cheap repentance. It was a costly one, losing half of his possessions and ample amount of restitution. But he could do all this because he was so moved by the love of Jesus.
Jesus loves us unconditionally. Whatever we do or what we do not do, whether we perform well or poorly, has nothing to do with his love. He loves us unconditionally. But we should accept his love and we should repent based on his love. We should not abuse his love but we should repent being moved by his love.
Jesus’ love demonstrated in his death and resurrection should be the basis of all of our repentance.
Jesus was very happy too because the purpose of his coming has been fulfilled in the life of one person Zacchaeus. So Jesus said in Verse 10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Jesus sought Zacchaeus who was lost and now he was saved.
In conclusion, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Because he keeps seeking the lost we have a chance to be saved. He knows our heart desire and honors it. Because of his love and personal knowledge of us, he can lead us to repentance. Zecchaeus came to Jesus to see who Jesus was. He responded the love of Jesus with his repentance.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
In this passage a chief tax collector Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. It seems that Luke tells this story to give balance to the sad story of the rich young ruler in the previous passage. Zacchaeus wanted to come to Jesus, but he faced obstacles and limitations. The conventional way of coming to Jesus was not working for him mainly due to his short height. So he chose an unconventional way, that was to climb a sycamore-fig tree. Jesus recognized him and willingly stayed at his house. When Zacchaeus repented, Jesus proclaimed that he had received God’s salvation. Through this passage let us think about how we can meet Jesus and why Jesus came to this world.
Read verse 1-4. Where did Jesus enter? (1) Who was Zacchaeus? (2) What did he want and what obstacle did he have? (3) What did he do in order to see Jesus and what can we learn from him? (4)
1-1. Read verse 1-4.
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. 3 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.
1-2. Where did Jesus enter? (1)
· Jericho – The “City of Palms” spreads out on the west side of the Jordan River at 825 feet below sea level.
· According to Joshua 6:1-27, under Joshua’s leadership, the walls of Jericho fell after the Israelite army marched around the city blowing their trumpets.
. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho is the setting for the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In John Wesley’s New Testament Notes, on this section of Luke's Gospel, it is said that "about twelve thousand priests and Levites dwelt there, who all attended the service of the temple".
1-3. Who was Zacchaeus? (2)
A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
· Chief tax collector – Tax collectors were considered public sinners in Jewish society. They were despised because they worked for the Roman government and made money in a dishonest way.
· He was chief tax collector. It means he had long experience as a tax collector. He was able and loyal to Rome. He also might have been more dishonest than any other tax collector, exploiting people to make more money. The Jews probably despised and hated him more than any other tax collectors.
· He was wealthy – He made a lot of money by cheating other people. It was clear that he became a tax collector to make money. The purpose of his life was making a lot of money. Even though he was rich, his life was sinful before God and man.
1-4. What did he want and what obstacle did he have? (3)
He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.
· He wanted to see who Jesus was - He had great interest in Jesus. He wanted to know who Jesus was.
· Why had he became interested in Jesus? We don’t know the exact reason but it’s obvious that he had desire to know Jesus and meet him.
· He had desire to make money but he had desire to know Jesus also. He seemed to be the last person who would be interested in Jesus, but in reality he had eager desire to know Jesus.
· It is true that the person who seems to have little desire for Jesus could be the one who has spiritual desire to know Jesus the most.
· He might have been impressed with Jesus who welcomed tax collectors when all other people rejected them. He might have wanted someone who could still love him even though he was tax collector.
· He might have wanted to meet Jesus, expecting that he could help him to change his life.
· He was short – He had a condition that made it difficult for him to see Jesus. He had desire to know Jesus but had an obstacle.
· People could have different types of obstacles that make it difficult for them to know Jesus.
· Because of their obstacles people often give up in trying to know Jesus. Many Bible students stop studying Bible when they have some issue that make it hard for them to continue bible study or believe in Jesus.
· Even many believers including us could give up making effort to know Jesus because of obstacles such as a busy work schedule or so on.
1-5. What did he do in order to see Jesus and what can we learn from him? (4)
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
· He climbed a sycamore - fig tree.
· He didn’t give up- Instead of being discouraged and giving up, he looked for a way to overcome the obstacles.
· He overcame the obstacles by making great effort and using all resources.
· He had an eager desire to meet Jesus- His desire was strong enough to overcome any obstacles.
· God blesses those who look for him to the end with eager desire, overcoming all obstacles until God blesses them.
· We cannot know God if we give up because of obstacles. We must make every effort. If we look for a way to overcome obstacles, there is the way.
· The real question is do we really have enough desire to know Jesus. God will provide a sycamore-fig tree that we can climb if we have eager desire to meet him.
2. Read verse 5-7. What did Jesus say to Zacchaeus? (5) How did Zacchaeus respond? (6) When people saw what Jesus had done, what did they say? (7)
2-1. Read verse 5-7.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 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.”
2-2. What did Jesus say to Zacchaeus? (5)
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
· Jesus recognized Zacchaeus – Jesus knew that Zacchaeus wanted to see him.
· Jesus recognizes us when we seek him with eager desire.
· Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ name. Jesus never met with him personally but he knew him already. God knows each of us by name and has known us even before we knew him.
· Jesus knew everything about Zacchaeus and what he wanted. Jesus is our good shepherd who knows each of us deeply.
· Jesus wanted to stay at Zacchaeus house – He wanted to have fellowship with Zacchaeus so that Zacchaeus might have chance to know him personally. He wanted to reveal himself to Zacchaeus.
· Jesus blessed Zacchaeus’ eager desire to know him.
· Jesus recognizes and blesses our eager desire to know him. When we make every effort to know him, he reveals himself to us and gives us great joy in knowing him· But if from there you seektheLord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Dt 4:29)
2-3. How did Zacchaeus respond? (6)
So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
· He welcomed Jesus gladly. – He was so happy. It was the greatest joy he had ever experienced before in his life.
· He must have been deeply moved, for the Lord Jesus was coming to his humble house.
· It was such a great honor and blessing for him to have Jesus in his house.
· Jesus is willing to come to a humble heart.
· It is the biggest blessing to have fellowship with him and know him.
2-4. When people saw what Jesus had done, what did they say? (7)
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner
· They could not understand Jesus who was willing to associate with a public sinner.
· They couldn’t understand God’s love and mercy for sinners.
· They were sinners too but when they didn’t acknowledge this truth about themselves, they lost the chance to meet Jesus as the Savior who came to save sinners.
· Jesus is willing to be the guest of sinners. Once we recognize ourselves as sinners and ask Jesus for help, he will be willing to be our guest.
3. Read verse 8-10. What did Zacchaeus say? (8) What did Jesus proclaim? (9). Why did Jesus come to this world? (10) What can we learn from this passage?
3-1. Read verse 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.”
3-2. What did Zacchaeus say? (8)
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.”
. Some people think Jesus’ unconditional grace and forgiveness is cheap and really doesn’t change the sinful lifestyle of the sinner. But this is not true!
· Here he truly repented.
· First, he decided to share what he had with others, especially the poor. He had lived a selfish life. In the past, he had ignored the sufferings of the poor. But now he wanted to help needy people.
· Now he turned from his money-seeking life. Rather he wanted to help others, spending his money for them. Money was no longer his master, But God.
· Second, he stopped sinning or cheating people. He decided to cut off sin of his old ways, his sinful life.
· He took action to repent. His repentance was very real and practical.
· For repentance to be genuine, it must be practical. We must take practical action in keeping with repentance. He proved his repentance, making a very practical change.
· Faith that does not purify the heart and life is not faith at all. The man who confesses that he believes in Jesus but doesn’t make practical changes in his life, doesn’t have real faith.
· Those who know the grace of Jesus will naturally hate sin.
3-3. What did Jesus proclaim? (9).
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
· Jesus proclaimed that Zacchaeus was saved. Seeing his sincere repentance, Jesus proclaimed his salvation. Our sincere repentance with faith in Jesus leads us to the salvation
· This man, too, is a son of Abraham. – Jesus proclaimed Zacchaeus was a true member of God’s chosen people who will inherit the kingdom of God.
· People excluded him from their society thinking that he could not be a member of God’s chosen people.
· But Jesus restored him to belong to God’s chosen people and his children.
· Anyone, no matter how terribly they’ve sinned, can belong to God’s people and become a child of God. This can happen through repentance and faith.
3-4. Why did Jesus come to this world? (10)
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
· To seek and to save the lost.
· Jesus considered sinners like Zacchaeus as lost ones. All men are supposed to belong to God but because of their sin they are separated from God and were lost.
· ‘the lost’ implies that God wants to find them and restore them because of his compassionate heart.
· God’s intention toward sinners is not to destroy them but to save them and restore them.
· God is still seeking the lost ones.
· There are many lost one out there who are waiting for salvation.
3-5. What can we learn from this passage?
Jesus recognizes our desire to know him and helps us to know him when we make effort and have genuine spiritual desire. When we believe in Jesus and repent our sins we can be saved and restored to become children of God. Jesus came to this world to seek and to save the lost ones who are separated from God because of their sins. Jesus is still looking for the lost ones.