Sermon title:  WHAT HAPPENED IN ZACCHAEUS’S HOUSE?

 

 

Luke 19:1-14   

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, July 14, 2019

 

 

 

You probably remember the story

from Sunday School,

if you attended as a young child.

 

Jesus is coming down the road,

with an informal procession of followers

going ahead and following behind him.

 

And there are crowds of people

lining the road

to see him pass by.

 

A short man can’t see over the crowd,

but he is so eager to catch a glimpse of Jesus,

that he climbs a tree

and watches from above.

 

Then, as Jesus passes beneath the tree,

he looks up at this eager fellow,

and chooses him

as the one he will visit with.

 

That’s all that stuck with me from the story,

when I heard it years ago.

 

And it’s the part that appeals most to children.

 

But, as adults,

we find that there is much more to the story—

more that Jesus said and did

to teach us and benefit us.

 

So, as Paul Harvey used to say,

here’s “the rest of the story.”

 

Luke Chapter 19 begins

with the portion we just read

in our Responsive Reading.

 

And then it goes on from there.

 

Let’s take a closer look at it,

beginning with Luke 19:1.

 

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem

for the final week before his crucifixion.

 

1 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 being a short man he could not,

because of the crowd.

 

4 So he ran ahead

and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him,

since Jesus was coming that way.

 

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.

 

7 All the people saw this

and began to mutter,

 

"He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "

 

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."

 

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 what was lost."

 

The people in the crowd

viewed Zacchaeus as “a sinner”

because he was “a chief tax collector.”

 

He worked for the Roman occupation forces

and was in charge of others

who collected taxes for this foreign occupying power.

 

So, the Jews viewed him as a sinner

because he worked for the Roman enemy.

 

He was also in a position to defraud people.

 

Because he was not put in place

by a his own people,

but by an oppressive foreign power,

so, he was not responsible

to the people from whom he extracted the tax.

 

Zacchaeus was a “wealthy” man,

and Jesus had only recently taught his disciples

that it is hard for the rich

to enter the Kingdom of God—

harder than for a camel

to pass through the eye of a needle.

 

Yet, things that are impossible with men

are possible with God.

 

The interaction between man’s free will

and God’s sovereign will

is beyond human comprehension.

 

But, somehow, when he heard that Jesus

was coming down the road

this corrupt rich man

became overwhelmed with the desire to see him.

 

Evidently, the Holy Spirit

was already working in his heart

to bring him to repentance.

 

His desire to see Jesus

became almost childlike,

to the point that he “ran” ahead

and climbed a tree.

 

No wonder children identify so easily with him!

 

When Jesus looked up and saw him,

he knew Zacchaeus by name,

just as he knows each one of us by name—

even before we open our hearts to him.

 

And he called on Zacchaeus to open his house to him,

just as he calls on us to open our hearts to him.

 

And it’s what happened in Zacchaeus’s house

that is most important to us.

 

It was there,

after all the guests were assembled,

and perhaps after they had all shared a meal,

that we read,

 

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."

 

That was evidence of a change of heart on Zacchaeus’s part.

 

And it was a change of heart

accompanied by a change in behavior.

 

Zacchaeus gladly and enthusiastically

gave half of his possessions to the poor,

because he had now found something

more valuable to him than his wealth.

 

He had found Jesus.

 

And to make things right,

where he defrauded people in the past,

he was now paying them back

four times the amount.

 

He didn’t just come up with that number 4 on his own.

 

God’s Law to Israel at Exodus 22:1 said,

 

"Whoever steals . . . a sheep

and slaughters it or sells it

must pay back . . . four sheep.”

 

So, Zacchaeus was now confessing his crimes.

 

And he was doing what God said should be done

to compensate victims.

 

He had truly repented of his sins.

 

And he produced the fruit of repentance,

by doing good deeds.

 

No wonder, then, that

 

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 what was lost."

 

That was Jesus’ answer

to those who objected that

"He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "

 

He came to save the lost,

which means he came to save sinners.

 

And this brings us to Verse 11,

where our Lord is still in Zacchaeus’s house,

and goes on to give

his Parable of the Ten Minas.

 

11 While they were listening to this,

he went on to tell them a parable,

 

because he was near Jerusalem

and the people thought

that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.

 

They expected that the Messiah, or Christ,

was going to be an anointed king

like the anointed kings of Israel’s past.

 

The crowds expected that Jesus

was going to rally Jewish fighting men to him as King,

and was going to drive out

the Roman Legions that occupied Israel,

and that he would then

set up the Kingdom of God,

right then, on earth,

with Jerusalem as its capital.

 

So, Jesus gave this parable—or illustrative story—

to set them straight, and correct their thinking:

 

12 He said: "A man of noble birth

went to a distant country

to have himself appointed king

and then to return.

 

13 So he called ten of his servants

and gave them ten minas.

 

A mina was a small silver bar—

usually square in shape—

equal to the weight of 100 silver denarius coins.

 

A denarius was a day’s pay

for an agricultural worker,

so a silver mina was worth 100 days wages

or a little more than

a quarter of a year’s pay.

 

In Jesus’ story the man of noble birth

gave one of these minas

to each of his ten servants.

 

'Put this money to work,' he said,

'until I come back.'

 

14 "But his subjects hated him

and sent a delegation after him to say,

'We don't want this man to be our king.'

 

15 "He was made king, however,

and returned home.

 

Then he sent for the servants

to whom he had given the money,

in order to find out

what they had gained with it.

 

16 "The first one came and said,

'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'

 

17 " 'Well done, my good servant!'

his master replied.

 

'Because you have been trustworthy

in a very small matter,

take charge of ten cities.'

 

18 "The second came and said,

'Sir, your mina has earned five more.'

 

19 "His master answered,

'You take charge of five cities.'

 

20 "Then another servant came and said,

'Sir, here is your mina;

I have kept it laid away

in a piece of cloth.

 

21 I was afraid of you,

because you are a hard man.

You take out what you did not put in

and reap what you did not sow.'

 

22 "His master replied,

 

'I will judge you by your own words,

you wicked servant!

 

You knew, did you,

that I am a hard man,

taking out what I did not put in,

and reaping what I did not sow?

 

23 Why then didn't you put my money on deposit,

so that when I came back,

I could have collected it with interest?'

 

24 "Then he said to those standing by,

'Take his mina away from him

and give it to the one who has ten minas.'

 

25 " 'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!'

 

26 "He replied,

'I tell you that to everyone who has,

more will be given,

but as for the one who has nothing,

even what he has will be taken away.

 

27 But those enemies of mine

who did not want me to be king over them—

bring them here

and kill them in front of me.' "

 

28 After Jesus had said this,

he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

 

As the Gospel writer Luke explained,

the main reason Jesus gave this parable was because,

 

he was near Jerusalem

and the people thought

that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.

 

Jesus let them know, through the parable,

that he would be going away

to a far away place

to be made King.

 

And that far away place was, of course,

heaven itself,

where our Lord ascended after he was crucified

and rose from the dead,

and appeared alive again

to his disciples.

 

He taught, through the parable,

that he would go far away to heaven

to be made King,

and that he would come back again later

with kingly power.

 

But, the future king in the parable

before he left,

gave each of his servants

a silver mina to do business with.

 

This reminds us of how Christians

receive God-given abilities

that our Lord expects us to put to work for him.

 

He expects us to do the business of his Kingdom

with whatever he has given us.

 

Some of the Lord’s people

are able to accomplish a lot—

like the servant in the parable

whose mina gained 10 minas.

 

Others will be able to accomplish less—

like the one whose mina gained 5 minas.

 

Maybe others gained just 1 or 2 minas.

 

We’re told only about three of the servants

and how they did.

 

But we don’t want to be like

the one Jesus called a “wicked servant”

who ignored the command

to “do business until I come”

and who just wrapped the mina in cloth

and stuck it away somewhere.

 

All of us who belong to Christ

will enjoy eternity with him forever

in his heavenly kingdom.

 

But the Parable of the Minas

seems to imply

that there will be different rewards

there in heaven.

 

In Luke 19:16,

 

16 "The first one came and said,

'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'

 

17 " 'Well done, my good servant!'

his master replied.

 

'Because you have been trustworthy

in a very small matter,

take charge of ten cities.'

 

Will we be given different assignments in heaven

with various degrees of responsibility?

 

We don’t know,

but this parable seems to imply that.

 

18 "The second came and said,

'Sir, your mina has earned five more.'

 

19 "His master answered,

'You take charge of five cities.'

 

It has often been said that

“the reward for good work is more work.”

 

And this parable seems to imply that to be the case

in the heavenly kingdom, as well.

 

We don’t know if there will be literal cities in heaven—

probably not as we know cities today—

but at Matthew 19:28

Jesus told the Twelve Apostles,

 

"I tell you the truth,

at the renewal of all things,

when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne,

 

you who have followed me

will also sit on twelve thrones,

judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

1 Peter 2:9 tells us that all of us believers

constitute “a royal priesthood.”

 

Revelation 5:10 says Christ

will make us to bekings and priests:

and we shall reign on the earth.”

 

1 Corinthians 6:3 says that

“we will judge angels.”

 

We’ll have to wait and see

what our heavenly assignments turn out to be.

 

But we do know for sure

that God wants us to do good now

with the gifts and abilities he has given us.

 

In 1st Peter, Chapter 4,

the Apostle Peter enumerates

some of the gifts

that different people in the Church have.

 

And he encourages us to use well

whatever gifts God has given to us

to serve the Church.

 

Beginning at 1 Peter 4:10,

 he writes,

 

10 Each of you should use

whatever gift you have received

to serve others,

as faithful stewards of God’s grace

in its various forms.

 

11 If anyone speaks,

they should do so

as one who speaks the very words of God.

 

If anyone serves,

they should do so

with the strength God provides,

so that in all things

God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

 

To him be the glory and the power

for ever and ever. Amen.

 

The glory doesn’t go to us

if we gain 10 minas or 5 minas,

but the glory goes to God,

because we do all things

for his honor and praise.

 

The Lord has given all of us

the work of evangelism—

sharing the Gospel with others.

 

At Matthew 28:19, Jesus told us,

 

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them

in the name of the Father and of the Son

and of the Holy Spirit,

20 and teaching them

to obey everything I have commanded you.

 

And surely I am with you always,

to the very end of the age.”

 

And, speaking of the “end of the age,”

the Parable of the Minas

also points to that time.

 

The king in the parable returns in power

and says,

 

27 But those enemies of mine

who did not want me to be king over them—

bring them here

and kill them in front of me.' "

 

 When Christ returns in power

it will not be a pleasant time

for those who have actively opposed him.

 

So, let’s resolve to be like the servants in the parable

who used their minas well,

doing business until their master returned.

 

Let’s use the gifts and abilities the Lord has given us

to encourage and bless

our brothers and sisters in the Church

and to call sinners like Zacchaeus

to repent

so they can share with us

in joyfully serving the Lord.