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Ministry III (Sermon to Multitude, Sermons in parables, Woe to scribes , Talents etc)

63. Zacchaeus the publican

Luke 18, 35-43; 19, 1-27: Mark 10, 46-52. A.D. 30. Age 33. Jericho.

Zacchaeus the publican. A MULTITUDE followed Jesus. Nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude, he asked what it meant. They told him, Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

And he cried, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. Jesus commanded him to be brought; and asked him,

What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. Jesus said unto him,

Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. Immediately he received his sight. And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

¶As he went out  of Jericho with his disciples, blind Bartimeus sat by the highway side begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

Many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Jesus commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying, Be of good comfort; he calleth thee.

Casting away his garment, he came to Jesus. He said unto the man,

What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?

The blind man said, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said,

Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.

Immediately his eyes received sight, and he followed Jesus in the way.

¶Jesus [had] entered and passed through Jericho. And a man named Zaccheus, which was the chief among the publicans, and rich, sought to see Jesus who he was, and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. He ran before, and climbed into a sycamore tree to see Jesus: for he was to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw Zaccheus, and said,

Zaccheus, make haste, and come down: for to day I must abide at thy house.

He came down, and received Jesus joyfully. When they saw it, they murmured, He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Zaccheus said unto the Lord: Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. Jesus said,

This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

And he added a parable of the talents, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore,

A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten talents, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

Then came the first saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.

And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin; for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layest not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.

And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?

And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.

Scripture:  Luke 18:35-43

Meditation 1 of 3: 

Have you ever encountered a special moment of grace, a once in a life-time opportunity you knew you could not pass up?  Such a moment came for a blind and destitute man, named Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). He was determined to get near the one person who could meet his need.  He knew who Jesus was and had heard of his fame for healing, but until now had no means of making contact with the Son of David, a clear reference and title for the Messiah.  It took a lot of “guts” and persistence for Bartimaeus to get the attention of Jesus over the din of a noisy throng who crowded around Jesus as he made his way out of town.  Why was the crowd annoyed with the blind man’s persistent shouts?  He was disturbing their peace and interrupting Jesus’ discourse.  It was common for a rabbi to teach as he walked with others.  Jesus was on his way to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and a band of pilgrims followed him.  When the crowd tried to silence the blind man he overpowered them with his emotional outburst and thus caught the attention of Jesus.

This incident reveals something important about how God interacts with us. The blind man was determined to get Jesus’ attention and he was persistent in the face of opposition.  Jesus could have ignored or rebuffed him because he was disturbing his talk and his audience.   Jesus showed that acting was more important than talking.  This man was in desparate need and Jesus was ready, not only to empathize with his suffering, but to relieve it as well. A great speaker can command attention and respect, but a man or woman with a helping hand and a big heart is loved more.   Jesus commends Bartimaeus for recognizing who he is with the eyes of faith and grants him physical sight as well.  Do you recognize your need for God’s healing grace and do you seek Jesus out, like Bartimaeus, with persistent faith and trust in his goodness and mercy?

“Lord, may I never fail to recognize my need for your grace.  Help me to take advantage of the opportunities you give me to seek your presence daily and to listen attentively to your word.” 

Scripture:  Luke 19:1-10

Meditation 2 of 3: Zacchaeus the publican

 What would you do if Jesus knocked on your door and said, “I must stay at your house today”?  Would you be excited or embarrassed? Jesus often “dropped-in” at unexpected times and he often visited the “uninvited” — the poor, the lame, even public sinners like Zacchaeus, the tax collector!  Tax collectors were despised and treated as outcasts, no doubt because they accumulated great wealth at the expense of others. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was much hated by all the people. Why would Jesus single him out for the honor of staying at his home? Zacchaeus needed God’s merciful love and in his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible. He shows the depth of his repentance by deciding to give half of his goods to the poor and to use the other half for making restitution for fraud. Zacchaeus’ testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine. The Lord is always ready to make his home with us.  Do you make room for him in your heart and in your home?

“Lord, come and stay with me.  Fill my home with your presence and fill my heart with your praise.  Help me to show kindness and mercy to all, even those who cause me harm.” Zacchaeus the publican

Scripture:  Luke 19:11-28

Meditation3 of 3: 

Do you long for the coming of God’s kingdom in all its fulness?  The Jews in Jesus’ time had a heightened sense that the Messiah would appear and usher in the kingdom or reign of God on the earth.  Jesus, in fact, spoke in messianic terms of the coming reign of God.  Perhaps his entry into Jerusalem would bring about such a change and overthrow of Roman domination.  Jesus speaks to their longing for a new kingdom in the parable of a nobleman who went away to receive a kingdom.  The parable reveals something important about how God works his plan and purpose with humans.  The parable speaks first of the king’s trust in his subjects.  While he goes away he leaves them with his money to use as they think best.  While there were no strings attached, this was obviously a test to see if the king’s subjects would be faithful and reliable in their use of the money entrusted to them.  Third, the king rewards those who are faithful and he punishes those who sit by idly and who do nothing with his money.

The Lord gives his kingdom to those who are ready to receive his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  And he entrusts us with his gifts and graces and he gives us freedom to use them as we think best. With each gift and talent, God gives sufficient grace and energy for using them in a fitting way. As the parable of the talents shows, God abhors indifference and an attitude that says it’s not worth trying. God honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have. There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. Do you trust in God’s grace to make good use of the gifts and talents he has given you?

“Lord, your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.  Come and be the ruler of my heart and thoughts and be the king of my home and family.  Help me to make good use of the gifts, talents, time, and resources you give me for your glory and your kingdom.” 

Ministry III (Sermon to Multitude, Sermons in parables, Woe to scribes , Talents etc)The complete sayings of Jesus

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