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Zacchaeus:  Out on a Limb

Luke 19:1-10


  1. 1-4       

The publicans were tax collectors and they worked for the Roman government.  The Roman government had an amount that they needed, and they said to these tax collectors, “This is what you must give to us and whatever over this you can collect is yours.” And, so they became scoundrels in deed.   Not only were they turncoats and traitors in the minds of the Jewish people, but most of them were crooks, and it is doubtless that Zacchaeus was one of these crooks. 


vv.  5-6    You are very important to God; let that sink into your heart.   Zacchaeus thought that he was not very important to anybody except to himself, and his motto was get all you can, and can all you can get, sit on the lid, and poison the rest.  He was looking out for number one and he didn’t think anybody cared about him.  But, he was very interested in this man named Jesus.


Song:  “Wee little man”


And, so he went out ahead of the crowd because he could not see over the crowd.   He climbed up into a sycamore tree.  Three thoughts must’ve shocked him.


  1. Jesus sees me. 
  2. Jesus knows me.  He called him by name. 
  3. Jesus wants me.   He wants to come to my house. 


All three are true of you! This is amazing that the Lord would feel this way about us because really we’re just specks on a globe.  It’s as if the President should be interested in an ant floating on a piece of debris in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and yet our Lord looks down and He sees us as individuals.  He loves us one by one.  He doesn’t love us as a congregation, but one by one.  “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). 


The sun stays up there in the sky and warms the earth, and holds the planets in orbit, and at the same time will ripen a bunch of fruit like it has nothing else to do.  And, the great God that runs the universe is concerned about you as though that were His only job. 


He sees you, He knows you, and He wants you!


There’s no need to be out on a limb without Him.  We’re not just hanging around until we die.  There’s a purpose!


Zacchaeus found the Lord because the Lord found Zacchaeus.  And that’s the only way any of us can be found:  by Him.   We remain lost otherwise.


The lost person:  He doesn’t know where He came from, He doesn’t know why He’s here, He doesn’t know where He’s going, He’s just situated between two nothings.  He doesn’t understand the past, He doesn’t understand the future, and all He’s looking forward to is a hole in the ground.  If that were all I had to look forward to I’d join the drinking crowd.  I’d just get drunk and stay drunk, I believe.  No wonder people drug themselves, no wonder people stay in a stupor if life has no meaning.  They believe that they are the accident of evolution; that nothing times nobody equals everything.  And, since they believe that they don’t feel that they’re really guilty for anything that they do.  I mean, after all, they’re just the sum total of their genes and chromosomes and they’re just the way nature formed them or deformed them, whichever the case may be.  And, so, they don’t feel that they have any real responsibility for anything. 


You know, when man thinks that he’s an orphan of an ape he ends up making a monkey out of himself.  I am delighted to know where I came from, I’m delighted to know who I am, I’m delighted to know where I’m going.  I have a very personal God, one who sees me, one who knows me, and, praise God, who wants me. 


How did Zacchaeus come to know Jesus? How was Zacchaeus transformed? I want us to notice three things about his faith. 


He had a seeking faith. 

“And he sought to see Jesus…” (Luke 19:3).  5.  He climbed the tree because he wanted to know the truth about Jesus. 


It’s not enough to have a passing relationship with Jesus.  It’s not enough for you to have a glimpse of Jesus.  He is the central fact of the universe, He is the one who has split time B.C. and A.D. and split my life into B.C. and A.D.  He is the one that you must understand before anything else makes sense. 


Zacchaeus realized Christ not only as Savior but as Lord. 


Ill.--A little boy had a two-sided jigsaw puzzle that on one side had a map of the world and on the other side had a picture of a man.  And, his mother asked him to try and work it, and before long the little fellow had put the puzzle together.  He had the world all in one complete piece.  The puzzle was done, and every piece interlocked, and his mom was shocked, for she couldn’t believe that he knew that much about geography.  “Son, how on earth did you do that?” “Oh,” he said, “I worked the other side first,” and he said, “When I got the man right, the world was right.”

You will never understand this world, you’ll never understand this universe until you get the man right.  I mean, the man Christ Jesus. 


Zacchaeus discovered that Jesus is Lord. 

Verse 8: “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord…” (Luke 19:8). 


Have you made that discovery? If I only had four words to speak, I would say these four words, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Have you discovered that? That Jesus Christ is Lord?


If I were to ask you, do you believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ? You would answer, “Yes.” But, if I were to also ask you, is Jesus Christ Lord of all that you are and all that you have? I might get a very disturbing and revealing answer if you answer truthfully. 


I think that there are many who in the light of the way that they are living nod their heads and they acquiesce to the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord, but their lives tell a different story.  It’s not enough for you just to say intellectually that, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Dear friend, you must say experientially and in your life and in your practice that Jesus Christ is Lord. 


The Bible says in Acts chapter 2, verse 36: “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). 


Romans chapter 14, verse 9: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Romans 14:9).  Is Jesus Christ your Lord? Really, is Jesus Christ your Lord? Don’t get the idea that salvation is like a cafeteria line where you say, “I believe I’ll have a little Savior-hood please, but no Lordship thank you.” If Jesus Christ is not Lord, then He is not your Savior.  The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). 


Do you know what’s wrong with many of our churches? People have waltzed down the aisles, taken the pastor by the hand, joined the church, and gotten baptized, and have never yet made Jesus Christ their Lord.  Is Jesus Christ your Lord?

We hear a lot of talk to day about taking Christ as your Savior, but that’s not biblical talk.  Nowhere in the Bible do you read where it says “Receive Christ as your Savior.” Now, He is Savior, but you receive Christ, period.  Now, what’s the difference? Well, suppose I am performing a wedding ceremony and there is a young man, young lady here, and I say to the young man, “Would you take Mary to be your lawfully wedded wife?” Suppose he says, “Well, I’ll take Mary as housekeeper.” I say to her, “Would you take John to be your lawfully wedded husband?” “Well, I’ll take him as provider.” No, you see, you don’t take Him as any particular thing; you just take Him.  You take her and all that comes with her. 


Well, one of the things that come with Jesus is His Lordship.  Now, He happens to be Savior, He is indeed Savior, but somehow we have the idea that we can receive Jesus only as Savior.  No, the Bible says, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31). 


Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus for who He was and Zacchaeus discovered that the Savior was also the Lord.  What does it mean when Jesus Christ is Lord?  It means we submit to Him and obey Him.  Have you turned everything over to Jesus Christ?


Ill.--Lord Nelson, the British admiral, after a noted victory over the French had the French admiral to come before him to surrender.  And, that French admiral came up with somewhat of a smile, a smirk on his face, his sword dangling by his side.  The Frenchman put out his hand toward Lord Nelson, but Lord Nelson did not put out his hand toward the French Admiral, rather he said, “Your sword first sir.”

Before we see the smile of Jesus Christ and before we can place our hand in the hand of Jesus Christ we must lay our sword of rebellion at His feet.  He must be Lord; there must be an intent of submission.  Is Jesus Christ your Lord? Have you submitted everything to Jesus Christ? Is there any area of your life that is unsubmitted to Jesus Christ?


Also, it means His complete ownership of all that you have. 

In v. 8 he offers to give his money…that which was so important to him.  The fact that his faith reached his wallet is a strong indication that it had truly reached his heart.

A fallacy is this: that we believe that one tenth of all that we have belongs to Jesus Christ…that’s a fallacy.  In truth, everything you have belongs to Jesus Christ.  I mean, all of it, not one tenth of your money, not one seventh of your time.  It all belongs to Jesus Christ and if you are not honoring the Lord with a tenth, which is a token of your recognition that it all belongs to Jesus Christ, I doubt that you understand what it means when we talk about the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 


So after tithing, then the remainder of the money is to be spent at our discretion, right?  No!  The remainder of the money is left under His leadership as it all belongs to Him.  If He’s not Lord OF all then He’s not Lord AT all!

And, when we bring our money on Sunday to His church, and place it in the treasury it is representative of the fact that we are giving ourselves.  It represents our brain, it represents our blood, it represents our ability, it represents our sweat, it represents time. 


“Where your treasure is, your heart is.”  ~ Jesus


Oh, it’s easy to talk about the Lordship of Christ, but when Zacchaeus found Jesus as Lord it touched his pocketbook.  Sometimes people say, “Oh, I don’t want you to preach on money, just preach the Bible.”  Well, you can’t preach the Bible without preaching on money.  Did you know one out of every six verses in the four gospels deals with man’s relationship to his material goods? Did you know that sixteen of the thirty-eight parables Jesus gave deal with out material goods and attitudes?  Did you know that Jesus Christ had more to say about the use of material goods and money than He had to say about Heaven or Hell both?  Sometimes people want you to preach on the meaning of the third toe on the left foot of the beast in Revelation, and maybe the nail polish on that toe, but they don’t want you to preach where it gets right down where to where they live.  But, the Lordship of Jesus Christ means not only your complete submission, when you lay your sword at Jesus’ feet, but also His total ownership of everything that you have. 

It means your unquestioned obedience.  Jesus said in Luke chapter 6, verse 46: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). 


“My body my choice?”  No, we believe in the right to life!  Well, you have no right to your life, your not your own, you are bought with a price.  He owns it all. 


Zacchaeus had an experiential faith. 

v. 5          “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully” (Luke 19:5–6). 


Being a Christian is not just intellectually believing things about the Lord, it is receiving the Lord, experientially.  Did you know there are a lot of good people who believe the Bible is right who are going to Hell because they have never had the experience of receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?  They know the plan of salvation, and will be forever lost. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you are not saved by the plan of salvation, you are saved by the man of salvation, and his name is Jesus.  Zacchaeus knew more than facts about Jesus.  Jesus went home with Zacchaeus.  And, I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, if you receive Him in this place, He’ll go home with you, and if He doesn’t go home with you I don’t know what kind of faith that you have, but you don’t have the faith that saves.  There are too many people who leave Jesus in the church on Sunday; He doesn’t go home with them.  They don’t have an experiential faith.  They come and sit in church and nod their heads, say, “Amen,” believe the facts, but I want you to know that “…the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19).  Real faith doesn’t leave you out on a limb.  Bible faith isn’t just in the head.  It reaches the heart and naturally, the hand. 

Ill.--There was a difference between Christopher Columbus and the rest of his contemporaries, but that difference was not primarily in the fact that Christopher Columbus thought that the earth was round.  It may surprise you to know that many of the leading universities in the time of Christopher Columbus were teaching that the earth may indeed be round.  The difference between Christopher Columbus and the rest of his contemporaries was that he was willing to set sail on the basis of his faith, and that’s what made him different.  He knew he wasn’t going to sail off the edge of some flat planet, and was willing to act on his faith.  Are you willing to act upon your belief?  Zacchaeus was and it transformed his life. 


He had a transforming faith. 

Verses 8-10: “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.  And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:8–10). 

Something real has happened to Zacchaeus.  He made right all of his sins.  His life was changed.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  No longer is Zacchaeus a money grabbling, penny pinching, dishonest, crooked skinflint; he has been transformed by the grace of God. 


He was not just saved from Hell; he was saved from sin.  There are so many people who think that Jesus Christ came to save us from Hell, but that isn’t what the Bible says.  The Bible says, “…thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). 

What right do we have to claim that we’re saved if Jesus Christ is not delivering us from our sin?  Zacchaeus was transformed.  Has there been a change in your life?  You’ll know the difference.  Jesus will know the difference…and your wife certainly will. 

Zacchaeus was freed from greed and dishonesty.  I don’t know what your problem is, but when Jesus Christ comes into your life He’s going to change you.  Your problem may not be greed like Zacchaeus.  Your problem may be drugs, it may be alcohol, it may be lust, it may be perversion, it may be fear, it may be doubt, it may be self-pity, you may be a slave to public opinion, it may be unbelief, but I want to tell you that the Jesus who set Zacchaeus free, the Jesus who set me free is the Jesus who will set you free. 

Oh, Zacchaeus had been working all this time for financial freedom.  And, the more freedom he sought the deeper he became a slave until Jesus Christ set him free.  Because in the Bible freedom is not the privilege to do what you want, it’s the power to do what you ought. 


Jesus abided with him.  And Jesus abides within our hearts.  Col. 1:27 – “Christ in you…”  You see, Zacchaeus was lonely, he needed a friend, he was hated, he was an outcast, and Jesus came into his heart to abide, to be with him forever. 


I want to tell you about a man named William who walked the Seine River in Paris.  He was miserable and rejected.  He wanted to end his life.  He went four times to throw himself into that river and drown himself, but he couldn’t get the courage.  Before that, three times he had put poison to his lips to drink it down, but he could not find the courage.  He had considered a gun, but did not have the nerve to pull the trigger.  Now he’s wanting to jump off a bridge into the river, and almost did.  Just then someone told this man about Jesus Christ and he was gloriously saved!  William Cowper then wrote these words, “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.”

Oh, thank God for the grace of God that saved Zacchaeus, that saved William Cowper, that saved me, that can save you.  If you’re out on a limb without Him, one of these days the devil is going to cut that limb off from behind you, and then you’re going to find yourself under the sod without God.  Lost, forever lost. 


Somebody listening says, “One of these days I’m gonna do it.” Well, I want to tell you, the greatest discovery you can ever make is this, today…

He sees you, He knows you, He wants you.



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