In this sermon, part of Pastor Neil’s series on Travels with Jesus, Pastor Neil speaks on Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus, the tax collector. Here are some excerpts:
Zacchaeus was an outsider, if ever there was one. A social outcast. He may have had plenty of money, but few if any friends. Poor people resented him because he was rich. Rich and poor alike detested him because of how he made his living. The Romans looked down on him because he was Jewish. He was a man who belonged nowhere and to no one (Frank Barker, Encounters with Jesus).
Then Jesus came, looking for him. And, in an act of pure grace, He gave Zacchaeus a place to belong in the family of God, a place in the fellowship of His followers. He said: “Zacchaeus, you matter to me. You are the reason I came into this world. You are the reason I’m going to Jerusalem. I came to find and save lost people like you.”
Just as Jesus cares about “nobodies on the road of life” like Bartimaeus, He cares about outcasts and outsiders, too. He cares about the people others love to hate and He remembers the people others want to forget. He cares about people who feel left out and unloved, like unsavory tax collectors and “sinners” of all descriptions.
Some people thought Jesus spent too much time with outsiders and outcasts like Zacchaeus. And they criticized Him for it. They didn’t understand why He would do it. But He did. And He does. Jesus cares deeply about outsiders and outcasts who, it seems, are loved by nobody but God.
Have you ever felt like an outsider or an outcast? Spiritually speaking, we’ve all been outsiders. Once, as Paul says in Ephesians 2, we were all outsiders, cut off from Christ, without hope and without God in the world (2:12). The good news is that Jesus came to seek and to save outsiders and to bring us into a personal relationship with Him – a relationship of love and trust and belonging. Jesus came to bring sinners like Zacchaeus and us into the family circle of God’s love.
The good news is that Jesus takes outsiders, draws them (us) to Himself in His grace, and makes them (us) belongers. “Once,” says Peter in 1 Peter 2, “you were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (2:10). Now, “you are a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (2:9).
Are you an outsider to the promises of the gospel? To the blessings of God’s grace? You don’t need to be. Have you perhaps drifted away from Jesus? Are you holding something back from Him? Has the fire of your passion for the Lord Jesus grown cold? Jesus is seeking you. Jesus is seeking you today. He wants to give you joy, peace, and hope. He wants to give you a home in His family, life, to pull you into the circle of His love, just as He did with Zacchaeus. Let Him do it in your life today.
It is why Jesus came, why He was passing through Jericho; why He is passing through Kingstowne today. It is because of His heart for people like you and me who are lost without Him.
Pastor Neil has a lot more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear the sermon in its entirety.