Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Mana came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:1-10, NLT)
Last weekend we dedicated a new parking lot edition that added 97 stalls to our campus. On Saturday we invited the neighborhood come and play on our new parking lot and enjoy pony rides, a bounce house, snow cones and an 80 foot long zip line. The local fire department brought a truck and the EMS crew was on hand to display their rescue unit. On Sunday I talked about how our new lot was nothing more than concrete. We weren’t really dedicating concrete, but rededicating ourselves to fulfilling our mission as a church. The text I selected for worship was familiar, the story of Zacchaeus from Luke’s gospel. Here are some of the bullets I attempted to drive home from the sermon.
* The fact that Luke points out Zacchaeus’ limited height is not to be ignored. I’m sure he was literally a short man, but the point Luke’s making is that each of us has fallen short of God’s standard of Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 3:23). We all have the DNA of sin that keeps us from connecting with God.
* When Jesus came to Zacchaeus he did two remarkable things: he called him by name and he committed to spend the entire day with him. Jesus is merely a couple of weeks from his crucifixion, and he chose to spend one of those days with this “notorious sinner.”
* Jesus’ personal mission statement was to seek and to save the lost. Seeking speaks of the heart of God, and saving speaks of the help of God. Jesus was interested in more than conversions. He was and is interested in disciples.
* Jesus saw who no one else saw. He saw a man who was loved and valued by God. When others saw Zacchaeus they saw a “bad” person. Jesus didn’t see “bad” people. He saw “broken” people in need of grace and forgiveness. Maybe if we changed our perspective to see people as more broken than bad, we’d be more aware of the human need around us.
* 34 out of 35 of Jesus’ miracles were NOT performed on the Sabbath. Why do we expect so much to happen in one hour on Sunday when Jesus did his work during the week?
* As a church we are like the sycamore tree. We have been strategically planted in our community by God to elevate and lift the broken so they can connect with God. In the story the tree served as the point of intersect between Jesus and Zacchaeus. We exist to serve the same purpose today.
Following the service we passed out sidewalk chalk to our congregation and asked them to go into the new lot and write the initials on the concrete of those they know who need to be elevated to connect with Christ. I was moved by the sight of our congregation–from the very tall to the very small–hunkering down to make their mark. My prayer for our church is that we will never lose sight of Jesus’ purpose. We have no other purpose than to serve his.