Luke 19: 1-10 (NIV)
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 because he was short he could not see over 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 the lost.”
Jesus taught some of his most profound, groundbreaking, and influential sermons while sitting around a dinner table with sinners and saints alike. In this series, we will pull up a chair to those sacred meals and listen in on those life-changing truths. In Week 2 of our series, we learn that there is such a thing as a true fairy tale. In Zacchaeus’ story we see the beauty of the gospel unfold as we watch a sinner come face-to-face with his rescuer and find complete acceptance with no strings attached. The story of Zacchaeus is a story filled with meaning and poignancy, as grace comes to the rescue and we all learn what it really means to be saved.
When Zacchaeus is first introduced in Luke 19: 4, we find him running and climbing like a child in an attempt to see Jesus. The Scriptures are filled with examples of men and women going to extreme and undignified lengths to see God. Are you willing to sacrifice your dignity to be saved? What foolishness is God calling you toward right now that you are avoiding for fear of looking stupid or immature? Are you willing to daily risk your reputation, your dignity and/or your social standing to be saved?
What does it mean to you to possess a childlike faith? Jesus is seen time and time again exalting children and their ability to believe and trust so easily. Is your trust in God childlike? Where do your grownup faculties and beliefs get in the way of the simplistic and uncomplicated way of grace?
We learn this week that the name Zacchaeus means “the righteous one”. It’s safe to assume, with a name like that, Zacchaeus might have spent most of his life feeling like a failure or completely inadequate. Do you ever struggle with feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy? What are they?
Zach reminds us over and over again that “even if we do not get any better, Jesus will still love us.” Mull over your list from above and feel the weight of those inadequacies. Now sit in the truth—even if it feels childlike—that even if that list never gets shorter, or even if that list actually becomes longer, Jesus will still love you. How does that belief change you? How does that belief change your perspective of others in your life and their shortcomings?
One of the biggest obstacles we watch Zacchaeus face is not his own sin and inadequacies, but the crowd surrounding Jesus. Zach makes the clear distinction that the crowd blocking Zacchaeus was made up of some of the most righteous and holy religious people in Jericho. Rather than surrounding Jesus with an air of grace and acceptance, they were blocking Jesus from sinners who needed him the most, including themselves. Who are you intentionally or unintentionally blocking from Jesus with your righteousness? Who have you deemed to be too much of a lost cause to ever usher them into the presence of the one who could save them? Ask God to help you move out of the way.
In Jesus, Zacchaeus found unrivaled and unquestionable grace and acceptance. Jesus accepted Zacchaeus just as he was, with no strings attached. Have you allowed Jesus to accept you just the way you are? Do you ever allow your insecurities and shortcomings to block you from Jesus? Confess those insecurities to those in your community and ask them to pray with you that you will believe in the complete and utter acceptance of Jesus.
Zach reminds us this week that grace is not a lazy or soft position on sin, but instead grace is the freedom we desire that spurs us on to the impossible. What impossibilities is grace spurring you on to? Share those dreams and goals with others in your community and ask for their prayers and support in reaching those impossible heights.
This week Zach reminded us that people often deeply long for Jesus without even knowing it. Who is someone in your life God is nudging you toward inviting to one of our Easter services?
Ask God to show you this week how you might be unintentionally blocking someone from Jesus and make a conscious effort to get out of the way, or better yet, be a part of inviting them into a relationship with Jesus!