Have you ever considered the link between pride and sin? In the most recent installment of our sermon series Never Be the Same, John Elmore shows us an example of one man who abandoned his pride and found Jesus.
Jesus in Jericho | Luke 19:1-10
The Cure for Sin
Living a Meaningful Story | Mark 2:13-17
Finding Satisfaction for Your Soul | John 4:4-34
Show Your Wounds to Share Your Savior
Have you ever considered the link between pride and sin? In the most recent installment of our sermon series Never Be the Same, John Elmore shows us an example of one man who abandoned his pride and found Jesus.
Good morning, everyone. My name is John Elmore. I serve within pastoral care and re:generation here at Watermark. Great to be with you guys this morning. I've been sharing some on social media, but I want to tell everyone else in case you haven't heard or seen. This past week, on Tuesday, as a matter of fact, my wife and I received the diagnosis that she has breast cancer. I'm sharing that with you all because we're family. Scripture is super clear that we're brothers and sisters in Christ and that we are to bear one another's burdens. It's just an invitation to pray.
I know everyone is facing a battle of their own, and if it's not you, it's someone you know. That's what we do as the family of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. We share those hardships so others can come around and pray. There's a picture of Laura and my daughter Penny. You can see Judd in the background. He was pouting. That was just a week and a half ago. We were on vacation while we were waiting for results. God is good. He's going to see us through.
This week, we're concluding the Never Be the Same series, and the truth of the matter is Laura and I will never be the same as a result of this. I don't mean as a result of cancer; I mean as a result of the sanctification that God promises in his Word will happen. He says when we face trials of various kinds, he's at work. We're on the anvil, and he is shaping us into something amazing and beautiful. He does no evil, and though he allows it, he redeems it. So we trust ourselves to him. We're praying, "Let this cup pass, but not our will but your will be done. Be glorified." So, thanks for coming along with us.
This week with Never Be the Same, also (this is awesome), our church is never going to be the same. If you look over to my right, your left, Christina is interpreting for the deaf and hard of hearing community. What she's doing with Jeremy Jaqua, who's in charge of all this that's happening, is they're perfecting lighting and seating, and all that, so that on August 8 you can invite your friends and family and anyone you meet who is in the deaf or hard of hearing community to sit right over there in that section, and there will be a team of interpreters, so the gospel can break forth within that community. It's super awesome.
So, a whole lot to be thankful for, and with that in mind, we're going to be talking about Zacchaeus today. In case you're like, "Oh yeah, I know that story. Little guy climbed a tree," the story isn't about Zacchaeus. The story is about the character of God, the unchanging character of God that changes us, and as a result, we will never be the same. This is about a life-changing encounter with Jesus.
As I read to you about Zacchaeus, just drop in your name, because if you will humble yourself with him, that will be your life. It will reflect what we're about to read. Here's the thing too. I read this back in January. I was going through the Gospels, and I got to Luke. There's a part after you've walked with the Lord for a while that you're like, "Oh, I know this. I know what it's going to say. Zacchaeus. I've got it." But Bonhoeffer told his students in his secret seminary under Hitler's Nazi regime…
He had to go underground, and he taught his students, "When you read your Bible, pray, and when you read, read until something is jumping off the page. When it does, don't read for breadth; go for depth, because the Lord is speaking." So, I was at Luke 19 back in January, and I got three words in, and it was like, Boom! I just stopped. God's character stopped me in my tracks. I get to share that with you today. So let's read. Luke 19:1-10:
"He [Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.'
So he [Zacchaeus] hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they [the crowd] saw it, they all grumbled, 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.' And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.' And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'"
We are going to walk through this passage verse by verse, because there are crazy things embedded right here in this all-familiar story that are hiding in plain sight. By the Spirit and by the living and active Word, we're going to let God speak. Verse 1 that stopped me in my tracks: "He entered Jericho and was passing through."
It was just a normal day. I was sitting there, and I read, "He entered Jericho…" and I was like, "Wait. Hold on. Jericho? You can't go to Jericho, God. You can't do that. You actually said earlier that Jericho should never be rebuilt." I was like, "It says somewhere." I'm tearing through my Bible. I'm like, "Where is that?" He entered into Jericho. It's like, "You can't." They rebuilt a God-forsaken town.
The town Jericho was the first one to be conquered as the Jews, who were called up out of Egypt, were going into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering. They march around the city, the walls fall, and God says through Joshua (Joshua 6:26), "Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation…" And if you keep going, if you didn't take warning there: "…and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates."
God is bookending this, like, "Hey, don't do it, and if you do it, your oldest will die, your firstborn. And if you continue and even put gates on the city, then it will be your youngest. Never rebuild it." It was to be an Ebenezer, like Sodom and Gomorrah. The people would look upon it and be like, "God is a deliverer." They would just look on the ruins of Jericho and be like, "Sinful people. God brought them into the Promised Land. He delivered them. That's what that heap of ruins is. It should never be rebuilt."
It says, "If you ever do rebuild that wicked city, you will do so at the cost of your oldest and your youngest." Yet in 1 Kings 16… You flip again, and they do it. "Hiel of Bethel built Jericho at the cost of his firstborn and his youngest, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Joshua." Just verses thereafter, Elijah, seeing the wickedness upon the land… This is when he prays to God. He's like, "Enough! Never let it rain again. Withhold your blessing. The people have given themselves over to depravity." Yet they do. And then Jesus goes there.
As I'm reading this, I'm like, "Wait. They shouldn't even have rebuilt it. So if you enter into Jericho, Jesus, it's about to be on. You're about to rain down fire. I mean, you knocked over the tables in the temple. Dude, Jericho is going to be a bar fight. This is going to be ugly." And it's not. Verse 2: "And behold…" Scripture says behold is like "Pay attention." "…there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich."
Chief tax collector is the Greek word architelones. Think archrival, archenemy. Architelones means he was the top of the food chain of all of the thieves. The tax collectors were appointed by Rome from the Jews to take from their own people the tribute to give back to Rome, and they said, "And you know what? The authority we give you… Because you have to get paid, and we're not paying you. Just take a little extra, and that can be your income." So, I give some to Rome, I get some for me.
It says not only was he the top, but he was rich, which means he was really good at it. The richer he was meant the more he stole from his own people. Zacchaeus. So, here you have Jesus. He has entered into the worst city to find the worst man who has the worst occupation who's doing the worst to his own people. It's a mess. Here's Jesus, and the Scripture is recalling it to us for our benefit. Here's why I think it is.
As a recovering alcoholic, when I drank, I was swinging for the fences. I used to say, "I'd rather have none than one." I'm like, "If we're going to drink, let's get drunk…wasted, blackout. Let's tear it up." And I'm not the only one. I don't think anybody just dabbles with porn on occasion. We give ourselves over to it fully, and it becomes so depraved. I think with our control and anxiety, it's not like, "Yeah, sometimes." It becomes all the time. We become the arche of anxiety, the chief of it. We're just good at it.
We find that rut, and we just drive in it. Then we think, "I asked God to take it away once. I told community about it. It's just who I am. It's just my lot in life. That's my thing. That's my ditch. It's kind of my go-to when I get stressed." It becomes part of our identity, just like it was for Zacchaeus, and that's not okay. So, what sin is it for you? Right now, mine… It's easy to talk about the past. It's humbling to talk about the present.
Mine is being short with my kids. That's the one that keeps coming back up that I hate, yet at times I'm the "arch" shortness with my kids. I'm the head of it in my house with my 7-, 5-, and 3-year-olds. When we're late for church, late to get dressed, they're not eating or sitting at their seat, or whatever it is, I will raise my voice, be sharp with them, say demeaning things. They're children. I love them, yet that's what comes out. So, what is it for you that has started to mark you and become a little too close to your identity?
Verse 3: "And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way." Here's what I think. It's inferred from this. Zacchaeus wanted to see him. The people hated him. He was probably saying, "Excuse me. Um, can I… I don't quite…" And they were like, "Get back, jerk. I don't care."
We know from other passages people were pressing in so close to Jesus it was like a mob parade going through the streets of Jericho. He's trying to see, and they're like, "No. I don't care. You're not getting in on this one. You can take my money. You're not taking my view." So he runs on ahead to try to get another view, but there was a crowd there too. So what does he have to do? He has to climb this tree.
Let me tell you a story. We just got back from Florida. That was the picture of Laura and Penny there on the beach. My in-laws took us to this incredible vacation in Florida. When we get there, my nephew, who's 3… He gets to the beach, and there's no sign there… It said like "Florida state park." It didn't say "Nude beach," but he's like, "I don't care." I mean, full glory, full speed, just starts running naked. Just 3 years old, Adam and Eve in the garden-style.
There was like a bachelorette… There was some group of girls sitting there as he streaks by. You know one of them was like, "Did you order a stripper? What's going on here?" And they were like, "No." That was cute. It's cute to see a 3-year-old running, but what happened was it wasn't just the 3-year-old running. Then my brother-in-law Ben starts running, because he has to catch his naked boy who's committing public indecency.
So he's running now. That made us all laugh hysterically, because you have this adult who's normally poised, has it together, but he's now totally humbled, chasing his kid through the sand. By the way, the 3-year-old outran him way too much for way too long. That's what Zacchaeus is doing. That's exactly what Zacchaeus is doing as he runs. It says he runs, and then he climbs a tree. The only people who climb trees are kids. There's running. There's climbing.
If you take your Bible from Luke 19… What happens right before Luke 19 is Luke 18. In Luke 18, there's this parable. Ironically, providentially, there's this parable that says, "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector." Jesus is telling this story right before he meets the chief tax collector. He's like, "Let me tell you how this plays out. I'm going to give you the end before you see the beginning. Here's what happens."
The Pharisee goes to the temple and says, "I thank you, God, that I'm not like this man." He goes on to say, "I'm not an extortionist," which is exactly what Zacchaeus was, "or even a tax collector like him." He's probably pointing at this guy. It's like, "What?" Then you have the tax collector who stood off at a distance, wouldn't even look up to heaven, but beat his breast. "God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" Jesus said, "That one went home justified. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Then it goes on to say that kids came around Jesus, and Jesus says, "Let the little kids come to me." Then Jesus says, "I tell you the truth. Whoever does not receive the kingdom of heaven like this little child will never enter it." And you have Zacchaeus, like a little child, running through the streets… He runs, by the way. Mob boss owner, and he's now humbled like a little child, running through the streets, climbing a tree, just to see Jesus.
Here's what I would say to you. Here's your choice. It's an eternal choice and it's a daily choice: "pridelike" or childlike. You go pridelike, and God will humble you, and you will not have God in this life or forever in the next. It will be hell. Or you go childlike, and he says, "Welcome. Enter into my rest. You're mine. I adopt you as a son or daughter by the Father through the Son, indwelt by the Spirit, by the blood of Christ." It's the only way to enter: like a little child.
I've told you before that every morning, since I was 30, I get on my knees (I did it this morning) and put my face down. It's not a religious routine. It is a reminder for me and a prayer. It's not the same words every day, but it's a position of humility as a reminder to me, "I'm a really bad lord of my life, and you're a really good Lord of my life, so whatever comes today, you take me." It's childlike. I need that. We're body, mind, and soul all intertwined together. So I put my body in a position of humility because I need it. Otherwise, I am pridelike. I shake my fist at God. "I know better than you."
Verse 5: "And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.' So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully." There's a lot here right now. Jesus came to a place at a time for a person. It says in Acts 17 that he has ordained the time and place that every man and woman should live so that you may find God, though he's not far. He's near to every one of you. For in him we live and move and have our being.
The time and place. Jesus comes to the place, which was a tree in this case. Zacchaeus goes up. Jesus goes down. A picture of the humility, the condescension of Christ to come to this earth to save sinners. He's looking up at a person who's prideful and a sinner. He's like, "Come down." He came at a place, at a time, and he knows his name. He's never met him before. He knew him. Zacchaeus. Do you know the shock Zacchaeus would have felt in that moment? Like, "Wait. What? How do you know my name?"
God in flesh, sitting there talking to him. God in flesh. It says elsewhere he knows the hairs on your head. It's not particularly because God is concerned about hair. He knows every cell within your body. He knows every millisecond that has ever been a part of your life. He knows you. He loves you. He knows your name. He knows you so deeply and knew you before you were in him, that he would say, "Shari, I know you. Jeremy, I know you. Eric, Shoni, I know you, all of it and all your sin, and I've come for you."
Zacchaeus didn't go to Jesus. He was just trying to catch a glimpse. He wasn't trying to meet him. He just wanted to see him. "To see who he was" is what the text says. But Jesus went to him. That's what God does. That's predestination. That's election. That's God setting his love upon you, calling you by name (Isaiah 43). "I choose you." There is divine sovereignty in this, but there's also human responsibility.
All see the glory of God through what's created, his eternal qualities and power (Romans 1), but not all receive. There is divine sovereignty, and then there's human responsibility, all meshed in this mystery. This is the gospel. This is Romans 5:8, the good news of Jesus Christ, where it says, "God demonstrates his love for us in this: that while we were still sinners…" Zacchaeus. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This is what Scripture also calls the manifold wisdom of God. For manifold, I want you to think Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon." Like, the prism with the light going through. The light goes through, and then Boom! There are prismatic colors of the rainbow that are only seen in that light as it goes through. As the light of God comes through Christ, Boom! The prismatic colors, all the manifold wisdom of God throughout all the ages, that God in flesh would come to save sinners.
He says God demonstrates manifold wisdom, put on display. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is the crux of the entire story of human history and how God intervenes and saves us, and it's happening right here in Luke 19:5 and today in your life. Today, you have heard that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead so you would be saved, cross over from death to life. That's the good news. He loves you. He's not mad at you.
He wasn't mad at Zacchaeus. He didn't come and wag his finger at him. He didn't pass him by. He wasn't oblivious to him. He came for him. You can kind of read this and be like, "Wait, wait, wait. Worst city, worst person, worst occupation, doing the worst to his people. What are you doing there?" Where else is he going to go? He has no other choice. Where's God going to go? To a sinless city? To a sinless person? It's the only choice he has.
This is the end of the passage where it says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." All are lost. Only some receive. Pridelike or childlike. When I read it and I was in shock that he entered Jericho, I had to reread it and be like, "Of course. Of course he entered Jericho. Jericho is why he came."
My in-laws also have some land, and they built a fire pit on it. This fire pit is huge. It's like six feet wide. We have a picture of it. (Don't be looking at my bass; be looking at the fire pit. You're like, "What did he say?" I said, "Bass." It's a good one. Huh?) Because it's that big, my kids are prone to get in it. Like, we'll have a roaring fire, roasting marshmallows, and they're walking around the ring on top of the stones, like the Hebrews in Babylon, or something, like Nebuchadnezzar. I'm like, "Get out of the fire. What are you doing? You're going to fall in."
So there's a big rule in our family. "You don't get on the fire pit or in the fire pit. You don't do that. It's the rule. Dad said. Don't do it." So, one time we're roasting marshmallows. Next morning, we're having coffee, making breakfast. Everything is cool. All of a sudden, my 7-year-old bursts through the back door, and he's like, "Judd is in the fire pit! Judd is in the fire pit!" Judd is 3. He's our little one who was in the background in that picture.
I'm like, "What? You shouldn't be in the fire pit. I told him not to get in the fire pit." Right now, if you're getting out your phone to call CPS, don't, please. I get out there. Sure enough, he's in the fire pit screaming crying and holding his hands like this. I jump in the fire pit. The fire was out, but he thought he was playing with old sticks and ashes. He picked up a smoldering coal from the night before and burned his…
Now you're like, "No, I am calling CPS." He's fine. He still has four fingerprints. Index finger may be questionable. I jump in the fire pit and grab him out. He's okay. Great kid. Here's the thing. My other two kids, Hill and Penny, 7 and 5, are looking at this, and they're like, "Wait. What's going on? Dad is in the fire pit now. You said not to get in the fire pit. You just did what you said not to do." That's exactly what Jesus does here.
He's like, "Don't rebuild Jericho. Oh, don't rebuild… You just rebuilt Jericho. Okay. I'm in it. I'm in it because you're in it, because I love you. I created you. I made you. You're made in my image. I love you. How could I not? It's the only place I'm going to go. Wherever you go, I'm in. Even though I said not to, you did, and I'm going." It's why the Lord sent Jesus: to save sinners. How could he not? It's where he must.
I want to share one other thing. At that same ranch, my grandfather-in-law… I just drop the "in-law" and call him my grandfather. I love him. He loves me. He has adopted me too. He's my man. I love my grandfather. He busts out this guitar. It was an old flea market guitar. I'm like, "What? You play the guitar? I didn't know you had a guitar." He starts playing these songs. I said, "Where did you get the guitar?" I've never seen it. I've known him 11 years. I've never even heard about music in his life.
He's like, "Oh, my friend who's in the bog riders gave it to me," or tuned it or something. I was like, "Your friend the what?" He lives in Weatherford, Texas. He's like, "Yeah, the bog riders." I'm like, "I don't know what you're saying. What's a bog rider? Is that some weird Weatherford country Western bar band? What is bog rider?" He's like, "You've never heard of a bog rider? Let me tell you about the bog riders." And he proceeds to tell me this.
The bog rider is the dirtiest job of the cowboy. Nobody wants to be a bog rider, but the bog rider is so important, because cows, after heavy rains, are going to get a drink of water, and as they go down to the watering holes, because of the rain and the saturation, the mud just gives under the weight of that cow. They have hooves, so the more they wrestle, the deeper they go into the mud. They're stuck chest deep, dead. They're helpless at that point. They can't get out of the mud. They're just stuck.
You have vultures that see this, and they're like, "There's lunch. That thing is not getting out. That cow is dead." The bog rider's job is to go to all of the watering holes, and the cows that shouldn't have gone down into the mud that have… His job is to find them. When he does, he gets off his horse and goes into the mud, waist deep, and starts, by hand, shoveling it out from the sides of the cow, getting all the mud free from it, taking it upon himself, then putting his lasso around the cow, getting back on his horse, and backing the horse up until that cow is saved.
Then, in total humiliation, he goes back to the chuckwagon, mess hall, or whatever, covered in the mud of the cow, just to save the cow. My grandfather looks at me with tears in his eyes, holding his guitar, and he says, "My friend tells me that Christ is the great bog rider who entered into our mess that I self-inflicted…my sin, my mud. He's like, 'I'm coming for you.'"
It says in 2 Corinthians 5 that God made him (Jesus) who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God. Christ takes our sin upon himself. Colossians 2. All of our sin was nailed to the cross that the Accuser might be silenced, that we would go free, that we would live.
So, I thought about this. I'm like, "Well, that's a neat story, but it's probably not in the Bible." Then I searched for the word bog. One instance. Psalm 40, written by David when he was in a bog: "I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." David was in a bog. He was in certain death. It says he cried, the Lord heard, went, saved him, and set him on a rock. You know the rest of the story.
Verse 7: "And when they saw it, they all grumbled, 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.'" In this day and age, to dine with someone… This isn't like Governor Abbott having dinner with a sex trafficker, which we would all be shocked by, like, "That's messed up. Of all of the people you could have dinner with in Dallas, you chose him, the drug dealer, the porn ring guy," or whatever it is.
This would be, in this day and age, you eat with them, you are like them. It's where we always see Jesus. He's always with the sinners, isn't he? He's with the sinners and the tax collectors. That was their indictment against him. "You're a friend of sinners and tax collectors, prostitutes," because he came for them. They grumbled against him. All of the people are grumbling because they're like, "Zacchaeus?"
They were right to grumble, in a way, because sin is terrible. They just forgot about their own sin, so they were grumbling about his. And we do too. We're more frustrated about other people's sin than our own. Let me tell you, when you sin, there's collateral damage. There's a blast radius, and you don't get to choose it. It hurts your relationship with others, and it certainly had for Zacchaeus. He was the enemy of Jericho. It does with us too.
You think your porn is just between you and your computer. It's not. It affects everything. It's killing your marriage, killing your children. If you're single, it's still impacting all of your relationships. You just turn inward and decay and are spiritually stagnant. You think your control and anxiety, that struggle, the nagging… That's not just you. It affects everybody.
The pride, which was the indictment against the Pharisees, to whom Jesus used the worst words… He's like, "That is the spiritual stagnancy and stink that repels everyone else." So, what is it for you? What is it for me? That we would look at "What is this, that I'm more concerned about the sin of others than the sin of myself?"
Here in verse 8, we're going to hear two things. "And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.'" Two things. Encountering and knowing Jesus… Never Be the Same. Life-changing encounters with God. There's repentance and there's amends, and they go in that order.
Here you have Zacchaeus. He says, "Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor." It's like, "Wait. What?" I've looked. There's nowhere in Scripture that says, "Thou shalt give half your stuff to the poor." The closest you'll find is "Love your neighbor as yourself," which may be what he had in mind.Jesus may have said, "Love the Lord. Love others. Summary. The end," and he might have been like, "Okay, I got it" and as a result did that.
Metanoia, change of mind, a change of mentality, of reality. There was something that changed here. I think what's embedded in that… Jesus didn't come to him to talk about money, but money was his idol…chief, rich. So, you meet Jesus, your idols are exposed. "Here's what's in my heart. This is what I worship." It's exposed. It's revealed when you meet Jesus, laid bare before him who sees all (Hebrews 4:12).
So there it is. They're sitting at the table, and he stands up. He's like, "All right. Here's my idol. I'm putting it to death. I'm not going to serve it anymore." "You will not serve both God and money. You'll hate the one and love the other. You can't serve two masters." And he doesn't. There's repentance. John the Baptist says, "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance," and here's some fruit being born.
The repenting wasn't the source. The source was repentance, a change of reality, that led to that. That demonstrated the fruit of repentance. But then there's also amends, because then he says, "And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." Which is actually Exodus 22:1. Repentance leads to amends.
I think we all have these idols and these permissible sins…getting drunk and materialism and greed. A friend has said we're the city most like LA. It's what we're known by. There are these permissible sins that creep in that we have to repent from, and then we make amends for them. So Zacchaeus goes and makes amends. He's going to go repay things.
I used to have a list inside my Bible (it was a Post-it note) that kind of haunted me in a good way. After a decade of drinking, I had a lot of people I had hurt and offended, and I would go through them systematically as I met them. Some I didn't know how to get in touch with, and I'd find them and mark them off as I sought their forgiveness.
In our family, the most often used phrase, aside from "I love you," is "Will you please forgive me?" from parents to children, from children to parents, from children to neighbors, because we're sinning. This side of eternity, though we've trusted in Jesus, we're still walking out this progressive sanctification, so it's the case.
Verse 9: "And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'" When he says, "Today salvation has come to this house…" Jesus' name is Yeshua. It means he saves. There's a double meaning here. "Salvation has come to this house." Jesus has come to this house, and he's seeing the result of Zacchaeus and his response, and he's saying, "Salvation has come to Zacchaeus" because of what he saw in him. There was repentance. There was a change.
Now, Zacchaeus was not saved because he changed. He was changed because he was saved. His justification was leading to sanctification, which ultimately would lead to glorification. There began, as he met Jesus, a work in his life that was bearing fruit in this immediate way, and Jesus, seeing, was like, "Salvation has come to this house," because he met Jesus, not because he followed rules. Every other religion will tell you, "Follow the rules, and maybe you'll be saved when you die." No. Christianity says salvation is found in a person. It's a person who saves.
It says, "…since he also is a son of Abraham." It says the righteous will live by faith. All the way from Abraham throughout the Bible, this is the refrain of Scripture: "The righteous will live by faith." That is where salvation comes: through faith, the grace of Jesus Christ. That's salvation. Period. There's no other way. That's why he says, "You're a son of Abraham."
Then he gives the summary statement of the reason for existence, the reason he came. "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Right back up to Psalm 40. Do you remember the bog of Psalm 40? Embedded there is Hebrews, chapter 10. A prophecy from Psalm 40 that reappears in Hebrews, chapter 10. It says, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not required, but a body you have prepared for me. Behold, I have come to do your will."
It's the Spirit speaking through David a prophecy about Jesus that was fulfilled that is recalled in the words of the author of Hebrews that is on display right here where it says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." This is why he came. Of course he's in Jericho. Of course he came to you. Of course you're hearing these words today…because he came to save. Justification, sanctification, one day glorification… This is why he came. It's the fulfillment of all of that right here, Jesus in Jericho. He came to seek and save the lost.
You remember me telling you on Tuesday we heard a diagnosis. "Laura, you have cancer." We sat in that consult room and said, "Okay. This is it. Here's how it's going to play out." How crazy would it be if we were like, "Actually, I don't. We don't have cancer. You're mistaken. Actually, I don't. So, we're going to go. Sorry." Cancer untreated leads to death. It would be a death sentence. Yet some people, pridelike instead of childlike, will say, "My sin doesn't lead to death. I'm doing pretty good actually. I don't need Jesus." Pride will keep you from God.
But it's not just in that instance of the cancer of sin. It's not just a one time, like, "Okay. We have cancer. We'll submit to your care," but there's this ongoing… For years, the rest of her life… We were told, "Laura, you're going to have to have twice annual mammograms, all the checkups. We're going to watch this for the rest of your life." Why? Because cancer tends to regrow.
So it is with sin. We trust him for salvation, our justification, but there's progressive sanctification all throughout life. We don't just stop. He saved us, and he keeps us safe, so we stay near to Jesus, once and for all, for the rest of our lives, until we're at home with him. As a result, you will never be the same. Let me pray.
Father, thank you for Jesus going to Jericho. You came to the town we lived in. You called us by name. Some you are calling today, because though they know about you, they don't know you, and they're still dead in their sin. I pray that today, Lord, would be the day of salvation. You've brought them to this place on this day. You know them by name.
You're drawing them to you that they would be saved, and that those of us who have trusted in Jesus wouldn't just be like, "Okay. Thanks for saving me from hell eternally. I've got it from here," but that we would place ourselves under your care, that you would be our personal physician for the rest of our lives to eradicate every cancer of sin that tries to creep in, that we'd live for your glory and kingdom. Amen.