Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Sunday, March 28
- Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)
- The Only Name (Yours Will Be)
- Good Good Father
- Way Maker
- 28 March 21Luke 19:1-10Please turn to Luke 19.Today is Palm Sunday - it marks the beginning of Holy week or Passion Week. We celebrate when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time prior to His crucifixion and resurrection. However, I want to go back a couple of days before Jesus entered Jerusalem and look at an encounter with a man named Zacchaeus, which I believe epitomizes the Gospel of Christ.As we look at this encounter with Zacchaeus and Jesus, I want us to keep something in mind - that Jesus knew what was coming.And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”Jesus knew what was coming - yet he remained focused on the mission of saving people - and at the center of that mission, was and still is, not this world but eternity. Keep that in mind - with the cross before Him, Jesus still found time for people ….We’re going to take our time though this. Starting in verse 1 -He entered Jericho and was passing through.Two things: 1) This was not the Jericho the Israelites destroyed in the OT (e.g. Portland, ME). 2) Jesus intended to pass through. His destination was Bethany and stay at a friend’s house, and then on into Jerusalem. I doubt there was any intention of stopping. However, as we’ll see in a moment,Jesus often made room for interruptions and the unexpected. He frequently paused for those who often get passed by and overlooked.Just keep that in mind.Jesus didn’t stop for everybody - but He did make room - kept some margin in there for when the time was right. Even before Jesus entered Jericho, He paused for a blind man ….If we want to be like Jesus ….And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.Tax collectors were traitors and scoundrels. These Jews were traitors because they aligned themselves with the Romans. They were scoundrels because they gained their wealth at the expense of their fellow Jews. For instance - the Romans said everyone must pay tax. The TCs would collect the tax, but they would also erroneously inflate the tax for selfish gain.For example, if the Roman tax was $20 dollars a month, the TC would collect maybe $30, $40, or $50 dollars a month, pocketing the difference. So, you can see, TCs were traitors, Scoundrels with a S - and consequently they were despised, shunned and were considered to be among the worst of sinners.Zacchaeus, however, was no ordinary TC. He was a chief TC. Remember Vizzini from the Princess Bride? Zacchaeus was the regional manager - he oversaw other traitors and scoundrels.Let’s pause for a moment. What caused Z to become a TC? What caused him to become a traitor? A scoundrel? What’s his story? His background? His experiences? Did the people of Jericho know his story?Did he have a bad childhood? Did he start collecting taxes out of desperation just trying to feed his family - maybe just for a year, get on his feet and then it spiraled out of control? We don’t know his story. Do we need to know his story?I’ve discovered and continue to discover that too often we label and we judge without knowing people’s stories. What he was doing was wrong - we get that. But we often judge and label while only knowing a fraction of people’s lives, only seeing a moment of behavior - we talk if we know everything there is to know about them …. When we do that, we think it let’s us off the hook from doing something - like loving our enemy and praying for those who persecute us.Seven weeks ago I was in my living room sitting on the couch just numb. I stared blankly out the front window and I noticed a guy washing windows at apartment building across the street. In my initial nano-second of a thought was who wants to wash windows for a living. And it hit me - “Shame on you Chad, you don't know his story. What if he's doing the best that he can do? What if he is in recovery, and even though this may not be his dream job, it is the best job he can get right now - and it’s paying the bills, and putting food on the table?” I was judging without knowing his story. I saw only a fraction of his life and made a judgment.Now I know that washing windows is different than being a tax collector. What Zacchaeus was doing was wrong - we’re not letting him off the hook, but if we’re going to be Christian, then it might be in our best interest to understand that people often have stories behind their behavior.So, Who are the traitors and scoundrels in your world? Do you know their story?I’m talking about the people you know or see or hear and …? Who are the people that perhaps you have unfairly labeled and judged without knowing their story? Not saying you have ….And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.Again, we don’t know his story; we don’t know why he wanted to see Jesus, but let’s play around with that for a moment. Let’s get curious.What might be some reasons this scoundrel wanted to see Jesus?Let’s think out loud.Maybe Z is simply curious - “Is this guy (Jesus) for real?”“I’ve heard this Jesus hangs out with sinners like me. I wonder. I’ve got nobody - no one likes me. I wonder if this Jesus …?”What if Zacchaeus was desperate? What if he was at that place of realization that he was a scoundrel, and that money doesn’t buy happiness. What if Z had hit bottom? What if seeing Jesus was his last effort to stay in the “game?” What if Z was looking for someone to give Him hope, give him time, give him a little attention to say you’re still valuable …?Again, we don’t know the motive for wanting to see Jesus. What’s the point I’m trying to make?What is it that we do know? He wanted to see Jesus but was prevented from doing so. For whatever reason, the crowd blocked Zacchaeus. How so? Scripture says it was because he was short in stature. I think this a double entendre. He was physically short, but he was also short in value - according to the crowd - not Jesus. They had little use for him, so they blocked him.I doubt his physical stature prevented him from seeing Jesus. See, a crowd can easily make room for shorter people and allow them to move to the front. But they didn’t do that. So this tells me that the crowd intentionally blocked Zacchaeus. The crowd saw an opportunity to stick it to the man – and they did! “This guy doesn’t deserve to see Jesus!”Let me ask you – who does?Who deserves to see Jesus? Everyone.And we'll talk more about the crowd next week, but let me say this, in Scripture the crowds who followed Jesus were notorious for preventing people from seeing Christ. They were notorious for impeding Kingdom work. Now I'm not saying you and I are part of the crowd … but I am saying, we better not be.What is your takeaway?Some highlights: 1) Jesus remained focused on the mission. 2) He made room for interruptions and scoundrels. 3) Do we know other people’s stories? 4) Everyone deserves to see Jesus.If you need to see Jesus …?
- Rescue Story
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