Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Road to the Cross - Looking for Jesus

 Today we are going to be in the book of Luke, specifically in chapter 19. As we stand today, we are just a few weeks away from Easter, or Resurrection Day. With that being the case, I thought it would be fitting to look into the final events before Jesus’ crucifixion.


As we pick up in chapter 19, Jesus is in the third and final year of His earthly ministry, which ranges from Luke chapter 9 and on. [Show Map] Chapters 12 to 18 cover Jesus ministry in Perea, which is the region beyond the Jordan. When we get to chapter 19, Jesus is on His final stretch back to Jerusalem. In fact, He is just a few weeks away from the final week of His earthly ministry; also known as Passion Week (Luke 19:28 and on).


At the beginning of chapter 19, we find Jesus in Jericho. Lets pick up reading from in verse 1.


Luke 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 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. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 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.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 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.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.


Jesus, on His way to Jerusalem, passes through Jericho. He was on His way to Jerusalem and went through Jericho. 


Jericho was a very prosperous and affluent city. It was a very desirable place to live. Balsam trees were planted all throughout the city of Jericho. Balsam trees were known for their fragrances they gave off so Jericho became known for the sweet aroma it gave off. The city also had a natural spring in which it produced fresh water. It was like an oasis in the middle of the desert. On top of that, it was a trading hub in that day. People from all different parts of the known world would travel to Jericho to trade their goods. It was a city that catered to the rich and wealthy.


Now, scripture specifically mentions that Jesus was simply passing through. However, there was another reason Jesus needed to pass through Jericho; his name was Zacchaeus.


Now there are a few things we learn about Zacchaeus in this passage:


• He was rich - Zacchaeus had a lot of money. He was very wealthy. He likely had a large home, many servants, plentiful food, fine cloths, etc. 
• He was a chief tax collector - Not only was Zacchaeus a tax collector, he was a chief tax collector. This meant that he oversaw provinces of other tax collectors. It is also important to note that tax collectors made their money off however much they were able to charge on top of a heavy Roman tax. Therefore, tax collectors were highly motivated to run up the tax prices as high as possible in order to get as much as they possibly could. Knowing this gives reason to believe why Zacchaeus was so rich, because of wrongful tax farming. 
• He was rejected by society - Because of these things, Zacchaeus would have been hated and despised by his own people in the Jewish community. They despised him for taking advantage of his own people by taxing them, not only on behalf of the Romans, but for his own profit as well. They despised him for the wealth he amassed for himself through wrongful gain at their own expense. 
• He was short - He was also short. The average height of men in that day was about 5 feet 5 inches; meaning that Zacchaeus would have been somewhere around 5 feet tall. That would be comparable to someone like Kevin Hart.


Zacchaeus was not seen as the typical everyday Jewish person of that day. Instead, he was looked down on by society and was treated like an outcast. He likely would have been treated like an outsider, disowned by his own family, and even told that he was not a real Jew.


Nevertheless, with all of that being true, Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus.


Luke 19:3 - he was seeking to see who Jesus was…” 


Although Zacchaeus was an outcast, he was trying to find Jesus. He heard Jesus was coming but he couldnt get a good glimpse of Him. So what did he do? He climbed up in a Sycamore tree. 


Now that may not be of much importance to us today, but that would have been a big deal in the culture back then. The only people who climbed trees were children. In fact, you wouldnt even think of climbing a tree as a grown adult. You would be considered a fool and made fun of. However, Zacchaeus climbed that Sycamore tree regardless of what people thought of him. Why? Zacchaeus was really looking for Jesus. 


No doubt he was trying to find out if Jesus really was who he said he was. Jesus had grown in popularity during that time. He had thousands of people coming to see him. So Zacchaeus no doubt heard about Jesus. He most likely heard about the miracles He performed, the lessons He taught, the authority that He walked with, and who He claimed to be. A lot of people were searching for Jesus in that day. However, I imagine Zacchaeus had a personal reason to find Jesus. I imagine Zacchaeus wanted to find out if Jesus would really accept him, forgive him, and provide relief to his soul. Zacchaeus was really looking for Jesus.


Jesus saw Zacchaeus.


Luke 19:5 - 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.


There were a lot of people who wanted to see Jesus. He was popular and He did amazing things. But many just wanted to see a show. Zacchaeus however was looking for Jesus. He wanted to see if Jesus could really provide relief for his soul. Zacchaeus, through his desperate measures, showed that he was really looking for Jesus, and Jesus saw him.


Like Zacchaeus, there are people around us everyday who are looking for Jesus. Whether they realizer it or not, they are searching for Jesus. They are looking for something to satisfy their soul. They are people every day who look like everything is perfect on the outside, but are truly are discontent and looking for a solution. These people are at your workplaces, in your businesses, in your neighborhood, in your family, etc. These are the people who show up in church and take up your seats unknowingly. Why? Because they are trying to find Jesus.


However, they may have a hurdle in front of them: they have been marked by society, they have been rejected by some, maybe they are being rejected by you.


Maybe these people are not our cup of tea, maybe they are different than us, maybe they have different political beliefs that we do. However, with all of that aside, People are looking for Jesus, and Jesus is looking for them. All God needs is for us to reach out.


All God needs is for us to love them, invite them to church, make them feel welcomed in service, tell them about Jesus, etc.


That is what Jesus did, He reached out to Zacchaeus and his life changed.


Luke 19:8 - 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.


Not only did Zacchaeus invite Jesus into his home, he invited Jesus into his heart. It says that Zacchaeus said he would:

Give half of what he owned to the poor
Restore four times what he had stolen from anyone
That is a big deal!


No one would ever do something like that; unless Jesus came into their heart and changed them from the inside out… that is what happened to Zacchaeus. 


God had a plan for Zacchaeus, God was in need of him.


We never know Gods plan for someone else in our life. All we have to know is that God has a plan for their life; He is in need of them. He is in need of those in your work place, in your family, at church, etc. All we have to do is reach out to them.




1. People everywhere are looking for Jesus
2. God has a plan for them
3. He just needs you to reach out to them

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