Luk 136 19v01-10 A Lost Sinner Sought and Saved
Sermon #136 Luke Sermons
Title: A Lost Sinner Sought and Saved
Text: Luke 19:1-10
Subject: The Conversion of Zacchaeus
Date: Sunday Morning —December 5, 2004
Tape # Y-50a
Reading: Psalm 113:1-9
It is always profitable for our souls to read about the conversion of a sinner by God’s omnipotent grace. It is especially profitable to read and study the stories of God’s converting grace given to us in the pages of Holy Scripture. We should read them often and study them with care, asking God the Holy Spirit to teach us the wonders of his grace. When we read about the conversion of the Samaritan woman in John 4, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, and the conversion of Onesimus in the Book of Philemon we find our hearts saying, “That is what the Lord has done for me,” don’t we?
In Luke 19:1-10, we read the story of Zacchaeus’ conversion by the Lord Jesus. Let’s read the story together. Our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, never changes. What he did for Zacchaeus he still does for sinners today. The title of my message is — A Lost Sinner Sought and Saved.
The key to understanding this story of God’s marvelous, free, saving grace is found in verses 9 and 10. Our Savior tells us that salvation came to Zacchaeus because “he also is a son of Abraham.” He was saved by omnipotent grace because the Lord Jesus came down here “to seek and to save that which was lost.”
As we read this story, let’s read it in its context. Look back to Luke 18. In verses 18-25 we read about the rich young ruler who refused to bow to Christ. As he walked away from the Master, we read in verses 24-26. — “And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Then, in verse 26, the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Then, our Savior said, in verse 27, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Beginning right there, he proceeds to demonstrate the fact that he is that God with whom alone salvation is possible. He and he alone is able to save unto the uttermost all who come to God by him, for he is himself God the Son, God who came to seek and to save that which was lost.
· In verse 30 he tells us that the salvation he brings is “in the world to come life everlasting.”
· In verses 31-33 he tells us how this salvation, this life everlasting comes to our poor souls, by his death upon the cursed tree as the sinner’s Substitute.
· In verses 35-43 he shows us that the sure result of his finished work of redemption is the salvation of sinners by omnipotent grace, giving sight and salvation to the blind man as he approached Jericho.
Now, look at Luke 19:1. This chapter opens with some very solemn words given by God the Holy Spirit, words we must not pass over lightly. — “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.” The Lord Jesus entered into Jericho, and passed through it. As he was approaching Jericho, he saved Bartimaeus (Mark 10:40-52) and the bind man we read about in chapter 18. As he was going out of Jericho, he saved two blind men sitting by the wayside (Matt. 20:29-34). A short distance further out of Jericho he saved Zacchaeus.
But we read of no wonders of grace performed in Jericho. Rather, here we read, “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.” Back in the days of Joshua, hundreds of years before, the Lord Jesus found a precious jewel for in crown there in a harlot named Rahab (Joshua 2 and 6; Heb. 11:31). Indeed, he found many jewels for his crown there over the years (1 Kings 16:34). But now he passes through Jericho. It appears that there were none within the walls of that great city he had come to save. Now he finds jewels for his crown among the poor, the blind, the publicans and sinners who were the castaways of Jericho.
With these words in verse 1, Luke seems to be saying to us, “Never cease to adore and give thanks to God our Savior for his sovereign, distinguishing grace!” He who has mercy on whom he will have mercy, has not left us to ourselves! Let us rejoice and worship him!
(Psalms 116:12-13) What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
(Psalms 116:17) I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
The spiritual lessons in this passage (Luke 19:1-10) are many. Let me direct your attention to just a few of them.
First, Zacchaeus’ conversion tells us that the grace of God that brings salvation is omnipotent and irresistible. None are too sinful, too base, too vile or too far gone for Christ to save. His arm is not short that he cannot save. Oh, no! His mighty arm is omnipotent in the operations of his grace! None are beyond the reach of omnipotent mercy!
· Here is a notorious publican, one of the most well known of the despised tax-collectors dwelling near Jericho, transformed into a child of God!
· Here is a rich man made to pass through the needle’s eye into the kingdom of God.
· Here is a covetous man transformed instantaneously into a self-sacrificing philanthropist!
Will you hear me? — Our all-glorious, ever-gracious Christ is able to save to the uttermost! Here is a Physician before whom none are incurable! Yes, “all things are possible with God;” and Jesus Christ is God our Savior! He still breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the captive free. He still makes the lame to walk again and causes the blind to see!
Hear Him, ye deaf! His praise, ye dumb!
Your loosened tongues employ!
Ye blind behold you Savior come;
And leap ye lame for joy!
Do you remember how the Lord told us not to despise the day of small things (Zech 4:10)? Well, that is the second thing I see in this story of Zacchaeus’ conversion. — Our great God uses even the smallest, most insignificant things to save his own elect. Great works often turn on small things. Let us despise none. Read verses 2 and 3.
(Luke 19:2-3) And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. (3) And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
It was curiosity, nothing but curiosity, on his part that brought Zacchaeus to the place ordained of God from eternity to be the place where Christ would find him. His curiosity, and that alone, seems to have inspired him, a grown man, to scamper up a sycamore tree like a little boy (v. 4).
(Luke 19:4) And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform!
Zacchaeus was curious, but Christ had come to be gracious. It was Christ who was secretly working to accomplish his purpose of grace toward Zacchaeus. His curiosity was but a part of our Lord’s secret work by which he would perform his gracious work. Let me show you.
Here is a third thing made clear in our text. — Salvation comes to chosen sinners because the purpose of God according to election is sure. As I told you before, Salvation came to Zacchaeus because Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham.
He may or may not have been a Jew outwardly. We are not told. Many of the publicans were Jews. Others were Gentiles. But this publican was a child of promise (Gal. 4:28), one of Christ’s, an heir of promise, because he was numbered among Abraham’s spiritual seed (Gal. 3:29). He was by nature a coarse, wicked man (Matt. 18:17). Like you and me, he was a sinner by birth, a sinner by nature, a sinner by choice, and a sinner by practice. But he was, like you and me, distinguished from all others in the crowd that day by God’s distinguishing grace and called because God had from the beginning chosen him to salvation.
Fourth, we have before us in the conversion of Zacchaeus another display of God’s marvelous prevenient grace. Let me show you.
Yes, Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus, who he was. He was curious to see the man about whom so much commotion was made. But Zacchaeus was not the one who caused the commotion or the curiosity it aroused. That was Christ himself. He sought to see Zacchaeus long before Zacchaeus thought about seeking to see him. Our Savior purposefully directed his steps through Jericho because the hour had come for him to call Zacchaeus. This was the day appointed from all eternity for salvation to come to Zacchaeus’ house! All the steps leading to the that purposed end were marked out, over-ruled, and made to serve this one great end.
Oh, how precious is the realization of God’s prevenient grace when it is revealed to us by his Spirit! That which the world cannot see, the Spirit taught soul sees as a huge volume read by his enlightened eyes, telling the story of God’s secret operations of grace just for him! The many wondrous works of God’s prevenient grace performed for us were those things that ultimately brought us to Christ and Christ to us! As Jude puts it, we were sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. Therefore mercy, peace, and love have been multiplied to us all the days of our lives, though we knew nothing about it until we were called (Jude 1-2). Goodness and mercy have followed us all the days of our lives, chasing us to the appointed place of love at the appointed time of love. And that same goodness and mercy will continue to follow us all the days of our lives, until goodness and mercy have chased us right into glory!
Look back, O my soul, look back over the days of your life and see how preserving grace in Christ kept you until that same grace called you to Christ; and all this from the sanctification of God the Father in his eternal purpose concerning you (Eph. 1:3-6; Rom. 8:28-30; 11:33-36).
(Ephesians 1:3-6) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
(Romans 8:28-30) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
(Romans 11:33-36) O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Here is a sweet thought. — Perhaps this very day we shall see the manifestation of God’s secret, prevenient grace in the conversion of another son or daughter of Abraham. Some sinner wakes up this morning and is prompted by something, he may have no idea what, to come here to this place where Jesus of Nazareth is to pass by.
The sweet hounds of heaven, goodness and mercy, may even get him treed as they did Zacchaeus. Then the Son of God comes to the spot, beholds Zacchaeus who, though he went to see Christ, never once thought that Christ would see him. There the Lord calls to him, calls him by name, bids him come down, invites himself to his house, tells him that he must today abide with him at his house, and Zacchaeus finds his heart instantly disposed to come down from the tree, and to receive Christ joyfully. Why?
(Psalms 65:4) Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.
(Psalms 110:3) Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
When poor sinners, like this publican, feel a desire to see Christ, to hear his Word as he passes by, though they may be completely unaware of it, it may be that it is their Savior working upon their minds creating the desire in them, predisposing them to hear his voice in the call of the gospel. Though they are, like Zacchaeus, “of little stature,” little in knowledge, little in the apprehension of their sins, and even little in desire for Christ, yet neither the press of the world, the press of time, or the press of a multitude, can keep them from Christ, when the time of love is come!
When, by some event of providence, a sinner is caused to be in the place where Christ comes in saving power, though he may have come with the most base motives imaginable, if the sinner is one of God’s elect and the time of love has come for him, he will then and there hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow him!
Illustrations: I started going to church to see a girl. Why? Because the Lord Jesus was coming there to meet me!
Child of God, roll these things over in your heart day by day. Never lose sight of them. The Son of God had his eye upon you from eternity, just as he had his eye upon Zacchaeus. You were chosen by him in everlasting love (Eph. 1:3-4). Your name was written in the Book of Life before the worlds were made (Rev. 13:8; Luke 10:20). You were one of those sheep given to the Good Shepherd by the Father from old eternity (John 10:27-29). And it is written, “the flocks shall pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the Lord” (Jer. 33:13). He said, “I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Ezek. 20:37). And so it came to pass!
Look at verses 5 and 6, and I will show you something else. Zacchaeus was in this place at this time because the Lord planted that sycamore tree just outside Jericho for him and sent up that tree, because he was coming there to save him! Because the Lord wanted his conversion to be, as it were, a public spectacle, he made Zacchaeus a little man and the limbs of the tree low enough for him to get hold of. — “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house” (v. 5).
And you know what Zacchaeus did. — “And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully” (v. 6). He did so because God’s omnipotent, saving grace is irresistible. He who said, “Today I must abide at thy house,” must do so!
A Mighty Change
Read verses 7 and 8, and you will see that grace wrought in a sinner makes a mighty change in the sinner who experiences it.
(Luke 19:7-8) And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. (8) And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, 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.
Without any word of command, without ay threat of law, without any promise of reward, Zacchaeus did what the rich young ruler who claimed to live by the law could never do. — He sold everything he had for the Pearl of Great price, took up his cross and followed the Savior joyfully, with a willing hear, because he wanted to. What was the difference between the two men? — God’s distinguishing grace! That’s all. The Lord Jesus did something for Zacchaeus. The rich young ruler came to Jesus. But here we see Jesus coming to Zacchaeus. — What a difference! And that is exactly how the Savior explains the difference (vv. 9-10).
(Luke 19:9-10) And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. (10) For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
These 10 verses of Holy Scripture give us the inspired spiritual biography of every one of Christ’s redeemed ones. This is my testimony. And, if you know him, this is your testimony, too.
Our blessed Savior has from everlasting arranged every step for the accomplishment of his great purpose of grace for his own. When the hour is come for the calling of his chosen to the knowledge and enjoyment of himself and of all God’s boundless, free grace in him, he brings his own to the appointed place and meets them with omnipotent grace! Everything in providence is so ordered and disposed of by his prevenient grace that not one thing can fail.
How refreshing! How blessed! During all the days and years of our rebellion, sin and unbelief, the Savior’s eye unceasingly watched over us. And when the love-calls of his Holy Spirit went forth, though, like Zacchaeus, we were lifted up with Pharisaical pride, self-righteousness, ambition, worldly pursuits, and the countless other vanities that had kept us from Christ; — down we came at the call of grace! Gladly, we took the Savior home to our house and to our heart, and received him joyfully. Why? Because the Son of Man came at the time of love to seek and to save that which was lost!
Do you know any thing of the love-calls of our omnipotent Savior? It is impossible not to know them, if you have ever heard them. The soul that hears the voice of the Son of God, though he never heard it before, knows the sweet sound of the Shepherd’s voice. When the Savior speaks to a sinner dead in trespasses and sins, he speaks with…
· A Loud Voice (John 11:43).
· A Powerful Voice (John 11:44; Psalm 29:3-11).
· A Still Small Voice (1 Kings 19:9-14).
· A Sweet, Loving, Winning Voice (Song 5:2).
· And A Personal Voice (Luke 19:5).
Oh, may he whose voice awakes the dead speak to you this day by his Word!