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July 19 Sunday Devotional

A Brief Update

For those of you who are unable to gather corporately with us this Sunday, you are loved and missed! If this is you, we are providing the songs we are singing together this morning and a devotional based on the sermon being preached.

Songs We are Singing Together

Devotional on Luke 19:1-10

Larry Malament

The gospels tell us stories of God at work in the lives of those who are lost. Luke’s gospel provides vivid imagery as tells story after story of Jesus’ saving grace.

All the gospels tell the stories of God’s love for the poor, the needy, the unworthy, the undeserving, and the outcast.  They are stories of his love, mercy and forgiveness extended to the desperate, and these stories continues to this day.

In Luke 19:1-10, there is one story in particular that profoundly demonstrates God’s love for lost, lonely, and broken humanity trapped in their sin.

Story after story in Luke describes Jesus’ determination to seek and save the lost ultimately fulfilled by his death on the cross.  This story is the climax of Jesus’ entire journey and his teaching. It is the message of Luke’s gospel.

It is such a compelling story of how Jesus came to seek and save the lost that Luke begins with “behold” to capture our attention.  He draws our eyes towards this profound gospel encounter where the living savior is saving as he cares for the sinner, the lost, the outcast, the marginalized, and despised. It’s why he came. Although a fascinating story about Zacchaeus it’s focus and purpose is to tell us about Jesus:

Luke wants us to “marvel” at Jesus; his kindness, his mercy, his grace, and his power. Behold: look why he came, look at what he does, look at what will happen to him for our sake, and most importantly see how passionate a savior he is to the lost and how powerful a savior he is for the lost.

In Luke 9:51 Jesus sets his face towards Jerusalem where he had told his disciples suffering, crucifixion, and death awaits him. Zacchaeus’ story is a culmination of exactly why he came and why he must go to Jerusalem.

Luke 17:11 records that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem (which was directly south from where he presently was). 

Along the way though, he chooses first to go through Jericho which was out of the way. Why did Jesus go do this?  Luke 15 tells us why.

In Luke 15 Jesus has been eating with tax gatherers and sinners. Because of this the Pharisees grumbled and murmured against him.  They thought, “I’d never hang out with someone like that.” They can’t understand why he does this. It’s because they don’t understand why he came. 

In response to their ignorance and sinful murmuring he tells the crowd three parables.  The first is the story of the lost sheep, the second the story of the lost coin, and the third, the story of the lost son.

These are stories, not just about what was lost, but more importantly about the one seeking what was lost.   He is really telling these stories about himself and how passionately he feels about seeking and saving those who are lost. 

In these parables Jesus is the true shepherd looking for the one lost sheep. He is the woman who is passionately searching for that one thing that is of great value. And he is truly the one with the father’s heart towards a lost son.

These lost items were you and me. We were like the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. It is you and me he passionately and wholeheartedly searched for just as he did for Zacchaeus.

Jesus came seeking Zacchaeus because, as Paul writes in, 1 Timothy 2:3-4 “God desires all men to come to a saving knowledge of the truth.”

In Luke 18:31 Jesus tells his disciples “We are going up to Jerusalem.” Although he remains undeterred to reach his appointment with the cross, his detour to Jericho demonstrated with certainty his reason for the cross, as he passionately sought and powerfully saved Zacchaeus. His going to Jericho was not random, just as his coming for you and I was not random. 

He not only came for a purpose, but also knew exactly who he was coming for. He knew Zacchaeus just as he knew our names when he came seeking us.

Because of his passion those Jesus seeks he finds.  He is passionate because he knows by name those he is seeking, and his passion is not ineffective. He not only passionately seeks the lost but powerfully saves the lost.

What Zacchaeus didn’t know is that he came seeking Jesus because God had already been at work in his heart. Maybe he had heard about another tax collector named Matthew who was now one of Jesus’s disciples, and the kindness shown to him. Zacchaeus climbed a tree to “look”, to “behold” unaware who was drawing him.

But it’s not a futile enterprise because we know Jesus is still passionately seeking and powerfully saving the lost.  In his grace he works quietly and powerfully in the hearts of those he has chosen, (John 6:44) even when they are not aware. 

J.I. Packer writes, “Were it not for the sovereign grace of God, evangelism would be the most futile and useless enterprise that the world has ever seen, and there would be no more complete waste of time under the sun than to preach the Christian gospel.”

But there is nothing that stands in the way of God’s irresistible grace in salvation. 

To his disciples Zacchaeus’ story is a huge surprise.  Logically he shouldn’t be saved.  He is a traitor, a thief, a greedy self-serving man who cares little for others, and is despised by those around him.  He’s a rich man and rich men don’t get saved.

Just prior to this story of Zacchaeus is Jesus’s interaction with the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-27. If it is impossible for someone who is rich to be saved than who can? But in Luke 19 Jesus demonstrates that he his power can do the impossible. He powerfully saves a rich man, this hated tax collector named Zacchaeus.

J.C. Ryle writes, “It is in the reading of Zacchaeus’ story that we see, miraculously, the camel passing through the eye of a needle.” See how powerful he is to save!

Very small in stature and despised by a crowd that would never let him see Jesus he climbed a tree to look, completely unaware that Jesus had come seeking him. These are the people Jesus not only comes looking for but these are the ones he spends time with: alcoholics, drug addicts, racists, the greedy, the liberals, the self-righteous conservative, the transgender, and anyone considered undesirable. It’s because none are beyond Christ’s saving power.

Zacchaeus wasn’t saved because he climbed a tree or because he shared a meal or because he gave to the poor. He was saved because Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

Zacchaeus’ story tells us there is no one who is beyond God’s power to save. The result of Jesus’ going through Jericho is this:  Zacchaeus is born-again and he comes to inherit eternal life because the gospel is powerful.

There have been times I have wrongly thought, “I can’t imagine that person ever coming to Christ” as though their sinful heart was greater than the power of gospel.

The power of the gospel is that it frees the sinner from the power and slavery of sin, and rescues them from the ultimate penalty of death.  The idol of Zacchaeus’s money was no match for the power of cross.  Every sin, no matter how ugly, how wicked, or how powerful can ever stand before the death of Christ and his saving work at Calvary. Jesus’ sacrifice, suffering, and death on the cross put to death the power of sin and death for all who trust in him. We can always trust the gospel because it powerfully works even when we are weak.

This truth should encourage us as we seek to share the hope of the gospel with others. It’s our faithfulness not our talent that’s most important in sharing the gospel.  God blesses our feeble “instrumentality” whether it’s with our neighbor, our co-worker, our family member, our friends, and even the strangers we meet on the way. 

You and I never know when the person we’re talking to is climbing a tree to take a look so let’s be faithful to tell the gospel story.

A Song of Response

Benediction

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24