Sermon: Zacchaeus meets Jesus

Introduction

I was born and raised in a small town named Nuwara Eliya, located in the hill country of Sri Lanka. It’s a very peaceful town surrounded by water falls, tea plantations, mountains and constantly touched by the mist. The British who lived here during colonial times fell in love with the beauty of Nuwara Eliya and gave it the name “Little England”. Even today the town is very popular for its beauty and the climate that it annually attracts at least 50,000 tourists (local and foreign).

In the month of April (the season of flowers and natural beauty) the peacefulness of Nuwara Eliya is disturbed by thousands of most wealthy people of Sri Lanka who come here all the way from Colombo and suburbs searching for a change in life. These people lack nothing. Nothing is out of their range but there’s an emptiness within them that their money can never replace. Some tourists party, get drunk, do drugs, behave violently during their visit hoping it will fix the problem.

The Bible also speaks of a man who had everything but knew that something is missing. Zacchaeus wasn’t happy though he was physically fit and a very wealthy man. He knew there’s much more to life more than possessions, luxury and partying but he wasn’t sure what it is? Zacchaeus lived a less than satisfactory life for many years. He was looking for a change when he met Jesus one day. On that day Zacchaeus was not just changed. His whole life was transformed. Today some of you are here because you want to experience a change in your life. Today Jesus doesn’t want to change your life. He wants to transform your life forever and you will never be the same old looser anymore. This transformation will make you victorious over your situations. This evening I want to ask you to do 3 things that escorts transformation.

Text: Luke 19:1-10

1. Believe in Jesus

A. Zacchaeus was a tax collector who got rich by defrauding the tax payers. He heard that Jesus was passing by and wanted to see Him.

B. He was a very short man. Jesus was surrounded by the crowd. The people didn’t let him to push through either.

C. He wouldn’t give up so easily because he believed in Jesus (faith). He climbed to a tree and waited for Jesus to walk underneath. Genuine faith gives the strength to overcome barriers.

2. Obey Jesus

A. Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (NIV)

B. The tax collector immediately came down from the tree and welcomed Jesus to his house.

C. Believing alone isn’t enough. You must act upon what you believe.

3. Respond in repentance

A. Gave half of his possessions to the poor. Paid back four times the amount to every person that he had cheated.

B. These were not acts of merit. They were the signs of a man who was transformed within.

C. Jesus’ response: “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” (NIV)

4. Application

A. Faith: Zacchaeus had never eye witnessed the miracles of Jesus. He had only heard a man named Jesus and the mighty miracles that man said to have performed. He believed his ears not his eyes. This is called faith. Faith is the key for a transformed life. It releases Jesus’ power and enables you overcome every possible barrier that rests on you way towards a victorious life.

B. Obedience: This is the failing point for most people who come to Jesus. It happens to when you believe but don’t want to follow. Simply experiencing Jesus’ power and love is insufficient. An inactive faith is a dead faith. You must love Jesus in return and allow his love and power to transform you every day. The follower is a replica of his master. Jesus must become the master of your life. Where you continuously make effort (with the help of God’s grace of course) to mold yourself after His model.

Remember, heart is the source of everything that you say and do. Once the heart is transformed your whole life becomes transformed. Jesus had never met Zacchaeus but he called him by his name. You may not know Jesus, but he knew you even before you were conceived in your mothers womb. You are not here today because you came in search of Him. But he came in search of you.

C. Response: You are not a committed follower of Christ unless you repent about your past sin. Repenting involves confessing your sin to Jesus and turning away from it. Zacchaeus paid back four times the amount to every person that he had cheated and gave half of his possessions to the poor as a sign of repentance. Today the church use water baptism as a sign of repentance. Are you ready to believe, obey, repent and be baptized? The bible says,

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16 (NIV)

Conclusion

Zacchaeus was a wicked and sinful man. Yet Jesus loved him. Many people are still surprised that Jesus has room in His heart for sinful and wicked people. That is why the gospel is so different from every religion which says that only good people are welcome by God.

The fact is that nobody is good enough, holy enough or pure enough to be fit for God’s presence. That is why Jesus came: to accept responsibility for the moral and spiritual shortcomings of the world and, in His crucifixion, to be punished for them. All those who believe in Jesus are no longer excluded from God’s presence but welcomed with joy. Indeed, Jesus still has a special interest in sinners like you and me if we repent – This provides the change that you and I are looking for.

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