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May 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

May 16, 2010

Luke 19:1-10  

[And, behold,] He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; [and] he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. [And] Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. [And] he ran on ahead, climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.  

[And] when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.   

[And] when they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  

Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  

INTRO: There’s a hidden message in this story, but Luke gives us clues to finding it
In fact, he practically gives it away
all we need to do is compare verses 5 and 9, noticing the repetition of certain words:  

Today – Today
Your house – this house
I must come – salvation has come 

I think Luke knew this story was special and he seems excited to tell it, and as we read it we can see why  

In the Greek text, the chapter begins, “Behold”
this word frequently appears in the Scriptures
it is an invitation to enter and experience the events for yourself  

Energy pulses all through this story – each verse from 2-7 begins with the word “and”  

  • a string of events, each one rapidly leading to the next
  • Jesus was on the move – this man wanted to see him, “WHO Jesus was”

Verse 7, I want you to notice how the complaint distracts from the plot
Our attention is diverted from the main action and what really interests us,
– from our curiosity regarding what Jesus wants from Zaccheus  

That is the nature of this type of criticism—it distracts people from what Jesus is doing
Uptight, religious people were constantly doing this to Jesus  

Luke adds a brief, descriptive phrase regarding Zac, “and he was rich”
In the previous chapter, Luke told a story about another rich man, who left Jesus sad, “for he was extremely rich” (18:23)
Luke probably told more stories about the rich than we find in any of the other gospels  


Verse 8, “Behold” – Zac wants Jesus to see what he is now doing
And Luke wants us to see, too  

Zac had within himself the potential to be generous
– to share his wealth, pay back what he had wrongfully taken, and assist the poor
– he had the potential to be a better man, live a bigger life, make a greater difference in the world
– he had the potential, but nothing in his culture, circumstances or conscience awakened it
Instead, his daily experience in the world told him to worry, acquire more, and hoard what he had
So his potential remained no more than a potential – which means it was as good as non-existent  

But he takes a short walk with Jesus, and suddenly he’s a different man
– no longer haunted by visions of scarcity
– no longer fearful and tight-fisted
He sees in Jesus an infinite resource and it sets him free
Jesus threw open doors that locked potential in, and Zac became a new man  

Their time together was so brief – how did Jesus do it?
How did he break the chains around Zac’s soul and unleash his potential?  

  • Simply by being with him
  • By treating him as person rather than a “sinner”
  • By calling him by name
  • By loving someone he wasn’t supposed to
  • By treating Zac, nor for what he was in eyes of others, but for what he was in truth, “a child of Abraham”

And Jesus’ unorthodox love wasn’t wasted on Zac  

It was exactly by acting contrary to his culture, by violating rules, Jesus saved Zac,
– restored him to his true self,
– and then gave him back to the crowd and to the city of Jericho, a changed man  

When Jesus calls your name, he doesn’t say it like everyone else
– he doesn’t speak to outer shell – dented, scraped, and stained
– he doesn’t speak to you as person others know – to your “ public image”
– he calls to true you
– his voice reaches your soul and awakens that which slumbers within  

 Verse 9, Jesus makes an announcement, “Today”  

Jesus was all about “today” – from start to finish  

  • 2:11, “for today . . . there has been born for you a Savior”
  • 4:21, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”
  • 23:43, “. . . today you shall be with Me in Paradise”

“Salvation” – the recovery and release of the potential inside Zac
“Salvation” does not always produce this same fruit
– not everyone is moved to give away their life’s savings
In Zac’s case, this is the point where he’d gone wrong – money was god
Salvation will always do this – get rid of the old gods
– it will always repair what is broken,
– and it will always result in generosity of one thing or another
Salvation, itself, is the essence of generosity: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only . . .
Not long after Jesus found Zac in a tree, it was the Lord who was on the tree – pure generosity  

2 Cor. 8:9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich  

Salvation expresses itself differently in each individual
– it reveals where I have been wrong and done wrong
– and I may not even know what that is or how it needs to change
But God does  

 Verse 10, “seek & to save” – with this last line, Jesus turns the story on its head
It began with Zac wanting to see Jesus
– but at end we realize that it has been about Jesus out looking for Zac  

Jesus comes to us, looking for that inner person
– irretrievably “lost” to ourselves and to others
– irretrievable for all except the one who was willing to risk loving us  

Did Zac find out who Jesus was?
He discovered something even better – that Jesus knew who he was
– and that Jesus knew he was capable of great generosity  

When Jesus reaches us and unleashes our generosity, we discover a larger vision of who we are  


CONC: Let’s see if we can bring this home  

Jn. 4:14, . . . whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, but the water that I will give hm will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life
Jn. 7:38, He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive  

Bring your awareness to the well within your inner self  

First,  know that this well is within you
– this is your true wealth – and it’s huge! God’s Spirit is infinite
– this well will never go dry, no matter how much water pours out or is wasted on dry ground  

Second, with your imagination, see (or sense) the well
We can know neural activity in our brain occurs with every thought yet not be aware of of that electrical-chemical activity
– it’s the same with the living water
– so we imagine what is going on and begin to become aware of this life within  

Third, open the tap – in silent prayer, begin to release the Spirit and love of God into the world
– make prayer the first generous act of your unleashed potential
– exercise your freedom to take a second look at other people
– to see them through God’s eyes
– to see them through the lens of love 

Ro. 5:5, . . . the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us 

Now your body becomes the pipeline of God’s love to world
– your hands that help others, your lips that form the smile
You aren’t holding back –
– yYou aren’t calculating the gallons per minute that rush out
– like true Pentecostal, you know regardless how much is given, there’s still infinitely more for yourself 

Do you sense resistence to freely opening your heart to others? Anxiety? Your grip tightening?
“It won’t be appreciated” – “I won’t be able to sustain it”
Acknowledge it, allow yourself to feel it, explore it
– then realize this isn’t coming out of your pocket
– it doesn’t depend on you to sustain it
So when you’re tired or resources are running low,
you can return to inner well, where water bubbles up to eternal life 

Our human organs and parts will eventually wear out
– but at least they won’t freeze up, atrophy, or corrode from lack of use or sitting in storage
– and until none of the pieces and parts still function,
– we will enjoy having the energy that comes from of an infinite supply amount of fuel

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