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The Rescue Mission

Tom Pennington • Luke 19:1-10

  • 2015-04-05 AM
  • Sermons


Well, I invite you to take your Bible with me this morning and turn to Luke 18, Luke 18. It was the week before the Passover in the year 30 A.D. Jesus was headed to Jerusalem for the feast. It was on Thursday or Friday, just one week before His crucifixion. On that day there were three very important events that occurred, events that would explain in clear terms what would happen on that Friday of the Passover week and on Easter weekend.

Here are the three events that occurred one week to the day before His death. First of all, for the third time, Jesus predicted to His disciples His death and resurrection. Notice Luke 18:31,

Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again." But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.

This is the third time that Jesus has told His disciples of these realities. Shortly after this statement of our Lord's, according to two other gospels, for the very first time Jesus clearly explained why it was that He had to die.

Here it is, in the words of Mark's gospel, Mark 10:45, "the Son of Man came to give His life as a ransom," as a payment to God, "in the place of many." There Jesus explains in unequivocal terms that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, that He will be the Suffering Servant who will lay down His life in the place of sinners who will believe in Him.

Shortly after those statements, a third event on that day brought the reason for Jesus' passion into very clear focus. Jesus had an amazing encounter with a very rich and a very powerful man. Luke is the only gospel writer who records it, but this account provides for us an illustration of what Jesus has just said, of what His mission is, in high definition. It is one of the Bible's best known stories, and yet it is one of the least understood. It is the story of a man named Zaccheus.

If you grew up surrounded by the church at all and in the life of the church, you heard and perhaps all you really know about this man is that "he was a wee little man, a wee little man was he." There is so much more to this story. Let's read it together. Luke 19, beginning in verse 1,

And Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house." And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. And when they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." And Jesus said to him, "Today, salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Neither Luke nor our Lord leaves us wondering what this story is about. The theme of this account is clearly stated in verse 10, "'For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'" The Son of Man is not merely a title of Jesus' humanity, it's from Daniel 7. It's a reference to the Messiah. Jesus, who claimed to be and was Israel's Messiah, had come, that is, the eternal Son of God had come into the world as a man, to seek or to search, and He came to search for that which was lost. That translates a Greek word which literally means that which is destroyed or ruined. Jesus says, I came on a search and rescue mission for those who are lost, for those who are ruined, whose lives are destroyed by sin.

The story of the Bible is the story of God seeking sinners and rescuing them through His Son, from beginning to end. In Genesis 3 it was God who went seeking for Adam and Eve after their sin. And God has always been the one seeking. He must search for us and rescue us from His own wrath and justice against our sins. When Jesus entered the world we were told this is His mission. In Matthew 1:21 Joseph is told to "'call His name Jesus,'" which means Yahweh saves or Yahweh rescues, "'for He will save His people from their sins.'" First Timothy 1:15, Paul writes, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

Here in this passage we've just read together, using as an amazing example the life of one ruined man, Jesus illustrates the heart of His mission, what His approaching death and resurrection would accomplish, the spiritual rescue of men and women. On the surface, this is a story about a small man named Zaccheus, small of body, small of heart. But primarily, this is not a story about him. This is a story about Jesus, the one who seeks and the one who saves.

Let's study this remarkable story of redemption together. First of all, I want you to meet an unlikely choice, an unlikely choice. We see this in the first four verses of this account. Verse 1 says, "Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through." The city of Jericho, which perhaps some of you have had the chance to visit, is nothing today like it was in that day. It's about six miles north of the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley. It's one of the oldest cities on the planet. At the time of the first century it was described by one writer as a little paradise, with springs and palm trees and balsam groves and rose gardens. Herod the Great had built there, next to the ancient city, a new magnificent city with a grand palace and with a hippodrome and a theater and aqueducts. This is the city to which Jesus entered.

It appears at first glance in verse 1 that Jesus was just passing through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem. And certainly that is true. But that isn't entirely true. Jesus was there on a divine mission to rescue a man He had never met before. Luke introduces us to this man in verse 2, "And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich." His was a Hebrew name, actually taken from two Old Testament passages, one in Ezra and one in Nehemiah. And his name tells us much about his spiritual background. It's Hebrew. He was born into a Jewish home, likely an Orthodox religious home.

In one of the Bible's great ironies, in Hebrew Zaccheus means the righteous one. Obviously, his parents had had high hopes for their son, but apparently this young man had chosen to sacrifice his parents' hopes for his spiritual future on the altar of his own ambition, his ambition for wealth, for success, for power. Verse 2 tells us, "he was a chief tax collector." It's hard for us to fully understand the mindset of the Jews toward people like him.

You see, when the Romans took over a territory like Palestine, they sold tax franchises. It was called a tax farming system. They sold tax franchises to the highest bidders. You paid your franchise fee, if you won the bid, and then Rome told you how much you had to collect from that region. But there was great latitude for individual tax collectors to collect more than was required and to pad their own pockets with the profits. It was a system, as you might imagine, rife with intimidation, with abuse, and even with extortion. You remember when tax collectors came to be baptized by John the Baptist and they said, "How do we manifest our repentance?" John the Baptist said, back in chapter 3, "'Don't collect more than you're supposed to collect,'" because that was the common practice.

The Jewish people considered tax collectors morally wretched, the lowest of all humanity. In fact, when they want to describe the lowest sinners, and even Jesus did this, he spoke of prostitutes and tax collectors. The prostitutes sold their bodies for money. The tax collectors sold their souls for money. They hated them for several reasons. First of all, they were considered to be traitors because they empowered the Roman idolaters who occupied the land. They were in league with those who possessed the land and kept them in slavery. They were also notoriously dishonest, accumulating wealth for themselves at the expense of their own people.

And, in addition, their work put them in contact all the time with Gentiles, which rendered them ritually unclean. As a result of that ritual uncleanness, they were forbidden entirely from worshiping in the synagogues every week. They were forbidden from being on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and in fact, if they were found there, they could be thrown out. They were automatically considered to be robbers and thieves so that most of the Jewish people believed it was morally acceptable to try to cheat them as much as you could. Zaccheus was one of those, and in fact, notice verse 2 says, "he was a chief tax collector."

The main centers of taxation in Israel in the first century were the main points of entry into the country, Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast, Capernaum in the north, and Jericho in the south. That's because a major source of Roman tax revenue was the tolls that were taken on the transportation of merchandise. Toll taxes were based on the number of wheels on your cart or wagon, the number of axles, the number of animals that it took to move that wagon, and, of course, ultimately on the value of the goods themselves.

Jericho was a large city through which much of the trade in and out of the country passed. There were major roads that intersected at Jericho. There was a road to Damascus in the north. There was a road to Caesarea and Joppa on the Mediterranean coast. There was a road to Egypt in the south. And so this was a large city with a lot of merchandise flowing in and out. And Zaccheus, we're told, was responsible for the entire tax district in which this city fell. That means he had many lower levels of collectors who worked for him. He was at the top of the pyramid, so he got a cut from all of those who worked for him. So Luke adds in verse 2, "and he was rich." The Greek word for rich here refers to those who didn't have to work for a living, who instead had others working for them.

What I want you to see is that from the outside, Zaccheus had arrived. Zaccheus looked absolutely nothing like a desperate, ruined, lost man. In fact, I'm sure for some who were not religious, he was the envy of the town. He was powerful. He was successful. He was very wealthy. And he had all of the pleasures that that power and wealth could buy. But the spirit of God had begun to work in this man's heart. Apparently, as we will see, his power and wealth no longer brought the same sense of pleasure and satisfaction that they once had.

Verse 3 says, "Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was." Zaccheus undoubtedly knew certain things about Jesus. Jesus had passed through Jericho many times before in His life and ministry. It was, after all, the main route from Galilee, where Jesus lived, to Jerusalem. And Zaccheus had undoubtedly heard about Jesus through his tax collector friends. I mean, after all, he belonged to a very small fraternity of men who were completely ostracized by their fellow Jews. Undoubtedly, word had spread through their ranks about this young rabbi who was completely unlike all of the others. Jesus actually befriended tax collectors. And amazingly, and I'm sure this word spread, He had called one of their own to be one of His disciples, Matthew, also called Levi. Likely Zaccheus had also heard about one of the most visible miracles Jesus ever performed. Just six weeks before, in the nearby town of Bethany, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. In a miracle that, really unlike any other miracle in Jesus' ministry, was intentionally structured to bring the highest visibility.

So Zaccheus certainly knew much about Jesus. We don't know all that he knew, but we do know this, he knew enough to sacrifice his dignity and his propriety on this occasion to try to see who Jesus was. Certainly he was curious, but it was more than curiosity. As the story unfolds, it will become clear to us that there was, in his heart, a deep sense of dissatisfaction. He was overwhelmed with the weight of his guilt and sin. He knew what he had become, and he knew very much that that meant he was alienated from God. And so, he desperately wanted to see Jesus. But he had two problems verse 3 says, "Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature." Two problems, not only was he small, literally micro the Greek text says, in stature, but he also had the obstacle of a huge crowd. He couldn't see Jesus through the crowd and he was too short to see over the crowd.

The crowd here was made up of Jesus' disciples traveling with Him to the feast, other pilgrims from Galilee that Jesus was traveling with, we're told earlier in the gospel. In addition to that, this crowd was made up of many who were there in Jericho. You see, it was typical for people to come out from their homes and shops to greet pilgrims who were on their way to the feast in Jerusalem. In addition, the last story in Luke 18 is a story that there in Jericho Jesus had healed two blind men just before this, and so the crowd had swollen to a massive size. And they were surrounding Jesus, Jesus, literally, crushed in this crowd of people. As a result, Zaccheus couldn't see. Verse 4 says, "So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way." Zaccheus knew the route. It was the route through the city. He knew the route Jesus would take, and so he ran ahead and climbed up into a tree so he could see Jesus as He passed by.

Now, sycamore is actually the Greek word translated into English. It comes from two Greek words which means a fig mulberry. So when you read the words sycamore, don't think a typical American or British sycamore. It was a fig mulberry tree. It was a great shade tree, often planted by roads. It, in its early stages especially, has a short trunk and wide lateral branches that were close to the ground and easy to climb.

Now, what I want you to see in this verse is that there is a level of desperation that isn't obvious to us in the English text and isn't obvious in the text at all, you have to know the culture. You see, in the culture of the first century, for the influential wealthy men like Zaccheus, certain actions brought a sense of public impropriety, a sense of public shame, and destroyed your dignity. And so therefore, they were actions that men of his stature, men of his wealth, never did. It never happened.

And here, in one verse, Zaccheus breaks two of those prohibitions for men in his position. First of all, he runs. Men of influence and wealth, in that culture, never ran. It communicated something less than the dignity of your position. And secondly, he climbed a tree. Obviously, the Spirit of God has been preparing the heart of this man. For the first time in his life, Zaccheus cared about something spiritual more than about his power and his wealth and his position. He had to see Jesus, even if it made him look ridiculous to the people whose respect he so much coveted. This was a most unlikely man for Jesus to seek and to save.

Maybe you find yourself in a position similar to Zaccheus today. Maybe you too have arrived at some measure of success, some of the goals you had set in life you've accomplished. But you found that it's lonely at the top. All the things that promised you joy and happiness have turned out, in fact, to be empty and deceptive. And as you sit here, you are painfully aware of your own guilt and sin and what that means in terms of your relationship with God your creator. If that's true of you, then wait until you hear what Jesus does next.

Let's consider, secondly, an unavoidable call, an unavoidable call. Verse 5, "When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, 'Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.'" Now it was springtime, Passover, this time of year, obviously. And so Zaccheus was undoubtedly partially hidden by the leaves of the tree, and I think that's probably how he wished to remain. He had already compromised his dignity enough. He didn't really want to be seen.

Although Jesus was completely surrounded and crushed by a crowd of people, I want you to get the picture, hundreds of people around Jesus in this massive town as He makes his way through. They had heard that in light of the Lazarus miracle six weeks before, the Sanhedrin had issued a death warrant for Jesus. The question was, would He go to the feast or not? And so, when word spreads that He's coming, He's here, He's in Jericho, a crowd, a huge crowd surrounds Jesus. And there's Zaccheus hiding behind the leaves of a tree as Jesus walks down the main street.

And in the midst of all of that, Jesus stops. He stops. And He did several things that shocked Zaccheus. First of all, notice, Jesus made eye contact with him, "He looked up." This is probably not what Zaccheus had in mind, he just wanted to see who He was, and Jesus stops, and in that massive crowd of people, all of whom hate Zaccheus, Jesus makes eye contact. And then He spoke to him, "Jesus said to him," and the most amazing of all, Jesus called him by name, "'Zaccheus.'"

Now at this point, it's frankly amazing that he didn't fall out of the tree and the moment was ended. Because remember, Zaccheus was just trying to see who Jesus was, so obviously they had never met. But Jesus calls Zaccheus by name. This is Jesus, the Son of God, using His supernatural knowledge, just as with Nathaniel in John 1 when he comes and Jesus says to Nathaniel, "'You are an Israelite in whom there is no guile.'" And Nathaniel says, "'How do You know me?'" And Jesus says, "'Before you came, I saw you sitting under the fig tree.'" And all Nathaniel can do is say, "'You are the Son of God.'" He understands that He had omniscience, He had knowledge beyond human knowledge. That's what's happening here.

Jesus calls Zaccheus by name. He had no intention, that is Zaccheus, of stopping Jesus or of inviting Him to his home. He just wanted to see Him, see who He was. But what you need to understand is that these circumstances had been divinely arranged. Jesus came to the place where he had hidden himself in the tree. He stopped, He looked up, He spoke to him, and He called him by his name. This is a beautiful illustration of what Scripture describes as the effectual call. There was no way that Zaccheus was going to miss this call. It was personal. It was direct.

Notice verse 5, "'Zaccheus, hurry and come down.'" This is a command. This is an imperative from our Lord. And Jesus' explanation of this command is truly shocking. Verse 5 says, "'for today,'" Jesus had decided when He would seek and save Zaccheus, and He had decided where, "'for today I must stay at your house.'" Literally the Greek text says, it is necessary, a little Greek word that speaks of divine sovereignty, of a divine appointment. This is sovereign grace. "'It is necessary for Me to stay with you.'" The Greek in verse 7 is even more specific. That expression, "'to be the guest,'" means to stay the night. Jesus did something here that He never did again in His entire ministry, He invited Himself to stay at someone's home.

Clearly, Jesus intends to picture a profound spiritual reality in this story. And we don't have to wonder what He wanted to picture, because Jesus explained it to Zaccheus, He explained it to the crowd, and He explains it to us. Verse 10, here's the point, "'For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'" Jesus had come to Jericho to seek out, to search for Zaccheus, and to save him, to rescue him. Verse 6 says, "And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly." Zaccheus obeyed the Lord's commands exactly. He hurried, he came down, and he welcomed Jesus as his guest with joy.

But joy wasn't the only emotion expressed that day. Verse 7, "When they saw it," that is the entire crowd, "they all began to grumble." The Greek word for grumble is one of those onomatopoeic words that sounds like what it means. "Saying, 'He has gone to be the guest of a man,'" He's gone to spend the night with "'a man who is a sinner.'" They are morally outraged. Zaccheus was a sinner, both in his career path and in his character. How could any righteous person be his guest? You see, in their thinking and in their culture, this was to accept Zaccheus and even to be guilty of sharing in his crimes and sins. They didn't know Jesus. Jesus was never contaminated by anything He touched. Instead, He always made it pure.

Thirdly, we see an undeniable conversion, an undeniable conversion. We move from the unavoidable call of Jesus to this man to what is unquestionably his salvation. We don't know when the confession in verse 8 happened. It likely happened either at is home that night, perhaps over dinner, or the next morning as Jesus prepared to leave Jericho. We can't be sure. But the confession of verse 8 is probably, I would say almost certainly, after Jesus had shared the gospel with this man. Jesus, we know what Jesus told people, He said, "'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" You can be a part of my spiritual kingdom. I'm here to be the Savior of the world. And if you will repent of your sins, if you will turn from your sins, and you will believe in Me, then you can have a relationship with God. You can be reconciled to God, who is now your enemy. You can know Him. Your sins can be forgiven.

What is clear is that in response to the gospel, Zaccheus makes a public confession of repentance and faith in Jesus. Notice his public confession in verse 8, "Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.'" Now when you read that verse, it is obvious that something radical has happened to this man. The Holy Spirit has changed his heart. You see, salvation in biblical terms is not just about the forgiveness of sins. It's about a radical change of our hearts, a change called regeneration.

You see, Christianity is not self-reformation. A lot of people think that. They think it's just, kind of, trying to do better, trying to imitate the moral ethics of Jesus. Not at all. The Christian faith at its center involves a radical, instantaneous, divine change of the human heart. That's what Christianity is about. Jesus put it this way in His famous discussions with Nicodemus in John 3:3, He said this, "'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again,'" unless one is born spiritually from above, "'he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" Jesus says, you can't get in my kingdom unless there is something radical that happens to your spirit that can only be compared to a new birth, a new beginning.

Clearly God had changed Zaccheus at the heart level, and his public confession here proves the genuineness of that heart change. Notice, first of all, he confesses faith in Jesus as Lord. Verse 8, "Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord.'" Literally the Greek text says this, "Zaccheus standing said," "Zaccheus standing said." The picture is of a deliberate, intentional, public confession. And when Luke uses the expression the Lord, when he uses the definite article the with the Greek word kurios or Lord, the Lord, throughout his gospel, it is always the acknowledgement of Jesus' divine identity and Jesus' right to rule. What you have here is the public confession of Zaccheus' faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord, as his rightful king, his rightful master. There is confession of faith in Jesus as Lord.

Secondly, there is a public confession of repentance of sins. He acknowledges and resolves to turn from his sin. Notice verse 8, "'half of my possessions I will give to the poor.'" Zaccheus, in saying this, is acknowledging that the sin of his life had been his greed and selfishness. This is what had defined him. This is what he lived for. This is what drove this man. He also acknowledges here that he was misusing the blessings of God in his life, that God had blessed him so that he could be a blessing to others. And so, in expressing his repentance, his willingness to turn from his sin of greediness, he says, "'half my possessions.'" By the way, this is a reference not to his income but to his capital. "'Half of my possessions.'"

You see, when God changes a heart, when someone truly becomes a follower of Jesus, there is a change in the primary expression of that person's rebellion against God. John MacArthur writes, "True righteousness results in a transformation that hits at the very core of your dominant category of sin." For Zaccheus it was greed. For others it may be sexual sin. For others, something else. But there will be a change when there is genuine repentance, at that core category of sin.

Sadly, there are many who claim to be Christians whose lives have remained completely unchanged. But that's not biblical Christianity. Because Christianity is not merely praying a prayer and accepting forgiveness. Christianity is about a radical change of heart, that only God can do. Second Corinthians 5:17, Paul says this, "if anyone is in Christ," "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." If you have truly come to Jesus Christ, if you are truly His follower, there has been a change at the very core of your existence. And if not, then you're probably not a Christian at all.

Zaccheus goes on in verse 8, "'and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.'" Here he confesses another of his sins, not merely greed and selfishness, but dishonesty. By the way, the expression in the construction of the Greek language here doesn't have the idea of doubt. We use the word if I have defrauded to mean maybe I have and maybe I haven't. That's not the idea of the Greek construction. It's, "'if I have defrauded, and I certainly have, I will give back four times as much.'" I'll give back 400%.

Now this is remarkable because in the Old Testament normally a thief was required to pay back two times what he had stolen. And if he confessed without being caught, which is really what's going on here, he only had to repay the amount he had stolen plus 20% according to Leviticus 5:16. In the most extreme case, of violent robbery, the Old Testament demanded 400% restitution. You see what Zaccheus is doing here? He is manifesting his true repentance by making restitution as if he had taken these monies from people in the worst possible way. Now this is repentance. Notice that Jesus pronounces Zaccheus saved, we'll see in just a moment, before he actually has time to carry out his expression of repentance. So repentance then, is a willingness and a resolve to change that given time will manifest itself in reality. That's his public confession.

Notice Jesus' assessment in verse 9, "Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.'" Zaccheus had been a guilty, sinful man. He had, in the words of Jesus in verse 10, been a man who was lost, a man who was ruined, a man who didn't know his God, a man who was living in rebellion against God, but spiritual rescue, salvation, had come to him. Jesus said, "'Today, God has changed this man at the heart level. God has forgiven his sins. He has become a true spiritual descendant of Abraham and not merely a physical one.'" In other words, he's exercised the same kind of faith Abraham exercised and therefore, like Abraham, has been declared righteous before God. Zaccheus had been genuinely saved. He'd been rescued. God had changed his heart. And as a result of that, he publicly confessed his faith in Jesus as Lord, and he publicly repented of his sins. And Jesus' assessment was that on that very day he had been saved from his sins.

We don't know for sure what happened to Zaccheus after this. We know, because Jesus tells us, that he was genuinely converted, that he became a real follower of Jesus. It's interesting to note, however, that one of the early church fathers, writing very shortly after the death of the Apostles, Clement of Alexandria, tells us that Zaccheus eventually became a pastor. He became the pastor of the famous church in Caesarea, from tax collector, from chief tax collector to shepherd of God's people.

Again, verse 10 tells us the point of this story, "'For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'" The reason God sovereignly orchestrated this event, and inspired Luke under the Spirit of God to record it for us, is to illustrate what Jesus' death and resurrection just one week later would accomplish. On the following Friday the Good Shepherd would lay down His life for His sheep, including Zaccheus. He came into the world for this purpose. He didn't merely come to be a good example, a good teacher, He came to seek and to save that which was ruined, that which was lost, to God. And the only way He could accomplish our spiritual rescue was to offer His life as a substitute for us. That's what He said. Mark 10:45, "'the Son of Man has come to give His life as a ransom to God in the place of many.'"

This story also illustrates very beautifully how lost individuals are found, how they come to follow Jesus. Do you see it here in this story? God prepares their hearts through the conviction of their guilt and sin, and then they hear about Jesus, they hear the good news of the gospel, and Jesus calls them to Himself. Not audibly as He did with Zaccheus, and with others during His ministry, but now through His Word. Jesus anticipated this in His high priestly prayer in John 17, the night before His crucifixion. In verse 20 of John 17 He prays this, "'I pray not only for these 11,'" the 12 minus Judas, "'but for those also who will believe in Me through their word.'"

You see, Jesus authorized His disciples to write what we call the New Testament. And when we read and study the New Testament, when you hear a story like the story we've looked at this morning, guess what's happening? Just as directly and specifically as Jesus did to Zaccheus that day, He calls, He calls people to Himself, through this Word. In fact, here's how Paul puts it in 2 Thessalonians 2:14, "God called you through our gospel." You see, people are spiritually rescued when Jesus pursues them and calls them to Himself. And that's the only way.

If you're a Christian here this morning, can you recognize your story in Zaccheus' story? Do you see the points of similarity? Like him, you are a Christian today for one reason and one reason only, it's because Jesus seeks and saves those who are lost. And He sought you. He called you to Himself. And that rescue was only possible because of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection that we celebrate today.

But maybe you're here this morning and you know in your heart of hearts that you are not a genuine Christian. Maybe that's not what you tell your family. Maybe that's not what you pretend to be. But, you know, there's been no radical change in the person that you are. Maybe you've heard stories like this from the Scripture your whole life. Maybe you've been to countless Easter services and you've heard many sermons, and you've heard the gospel again and again. You could recite it. But maybe today, as that day was for Zaccheus, it's different. Maybe today Jesus is calling you, very personally and individually, to Himself. He's calling you to give up your ambitions, to give up your life, to give up everything that you hold dear to follow Him. Romans 10:9 and 10 says this,

if you will confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for this amazing account. Thank You for the fact that in his story we see our own. Father, thank You for many of us here. There was a day in our lives when You interrupted our lives of quiet desperation just as you did that of Zaccheus, when You through the gospel called us to Yourself. Father, I pray that today we would praise You and worship You because we know that's only possible through Your Son.

But Father we pray as well for those here this morning who don't know You. Lord, bring them today to know You through Your Son. May You call them, even through the Word that has been taught this morning, to follow Christ. In whose name we pray, amen.