Life is often about the people you meet. Sometimes you encounter a person and God uses them to have such an impact in and on your life. You are drawn to that person like a magnet and are influenced for the betterment of your life, your character and your soul.
– I hope for those of you whom are married that this is true of your spouse. Oh that there would be passionate friendship in the midst of marriage.
– I hope for everyone that you have had this type of friend, these people are tremendous blessings. I often pray that for our church family.
– I hope that you are discovering this with Jesus. What a friend we have in Jesus!
– I hope that you will leave today impacted by the lives of a rich young ruler and Zacchaeus.
EXAMINE Luke 18:18-30; 19:1-10 Treasuring Jesus
The last several weeks in the Gospel of Luke we have seen Jesus tell parables – stories teaching spiritual truth. Many of them have emphasized God’s unlimited love, God’s unfailing power and God’s unstoppable plan to advance His Kingdom purposes. This week’s passages will help us to see these characteristics applied in the lives of 2 individuals: a rich young ruler and a man named Zacchaeus. Ultimately we can see 2 principles for treasuring Jesus
Treasuring Jesus has a “whatever it takes” attitude (18:18-30)
As people drew near to Jesus, a ruler came to him. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that this ruler was young and context from each Gospel passage indicate he had great wealth.
Whether or not you have great or little wealth is no indication of your spiritual life. Some people obtain wealth from righteous means (Truett Cathy of Chic-Fila; David Green CEO of Hobby Lobby), while others unrighteous means (Bernie Madoff former Wall Street stock broker ponzi scheme). In Jesus’ day, many believed wealth and possessions were signs of God’s blessing. In fact, it is often assumed today as well.
–> Please know that it is not God’s mission to make people happy, healthy and wealthy. These are simply blessings of God not obligations.
This rich young ruler was seeking eternal life; entrance into God’s kingdom. Based on his question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life”, he viewed it as something he had to earn. And certainly he attempted to with his obedient, moral lifestyle. He boasted of keeping God’s commandments even in his early years.
The conversation between Jesus and the ruler is instructive. Jesus tests the ruler to see his view towards Himself – “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Was the ruler approaching Jesus in commitment or casualness?
–> It is good for us to evaluate if we view church as pretense or priority.
Why do you call Jesus “good”? Only God is good.
Psalm 16:2 “I say to the Lord, ‘Your are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
Psalm 25:8 “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.”
Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 118:1 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Psalm 145:9 “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”
Further, Jesus led him to examine life in the horizontal through the commandments – adultery, murder, stealing, lying, honoring parents. The point was that if the ruler believed in God’s goodness then the behavior of that believer should reflect that belief. Beliefs have behaviors. Christian ethics weaves together the head, the heart and the hands.
This young ruler said he was obedient so Jesus probed his heart and challenged him to surrender worldly wealth and follow him. He says, “One thing you are continuously lacking…” The man went away sad because he treasured money over the Messiah; he was possessed by his possessions.
One of the areas that are close to my heart is children – children and teens to not just grow up in the church but to grow up in the faith. The church, on a large scale, has raised children on being moral, externally obedient yet distant from a genuine relationship and passion for wholeheartedly following Jesus. There seems to be a disconnect between beliefs and behaviors. And perhaps it is because we have emphasized the what of the Christian faith to the neglect of the who of the Christian faith. The end result of our Christian lives is not a set of religious values, or worse – political values. In today’s world everything seems to carry the label “Christian” without truly understanding what that means. Christianity is most essentially about a Person – Jesus Christ; and so a Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ.
Listen to Jesus:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:19-21, 24
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pears, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-45
Do you catch Jesus’ emphasis on the who than the what? It is not that the what does not matter but that once you know the who, the what will follow in joy and passion.
Here’s one more from the NT:
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5
ð Sacrifice your spectatorship, living the Christian life with mere words and from the outside – in. God is calling you to connect to His life and teachings in such a way that it consumes every part of you. This entire series in Luke’s Gospel is meant to move you toward truly living out what Christians say they believe. It is about faith. It is about priorities. It is about life. It is about eternity. It’s about glory – for who’s are you living?
ð Sacrifice your idols, the thing (person, possessions, or whatever) that is keeping you from truly going “all in” with Jesus.
- Money is not the issue, idolatry is the issue.
Treasuring Jesus understands grace results in generosity (19:1-10).
Off the heels of declaring the difficulty of the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God is the story of Zacchaeus. Zac was rich from being a chief tax collector. As a tax collector he would have made his living from the Roman Government not only collecting taxes but also charging citizens more than what they owed to pad his own pocket. Tax collectors were notorious for being shrewd businessmen but also sly and scheming, especially towards those whom were weak. And Zac was all those – shrewd, sly, scheming and short!
AND he was also seeking. Zac was seeking to see who Jesus was.
Did you know that there are people in our world whom are seeking to see Jesus? They are not believers/Christians. They do not know much, if anything, about the Bible. They do not come to church – but they would if someone invited them. They are seeking and often seeking in the wrong places but it is up to Christians to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1Peter 3:15).
Zac was seeking to see Jesus that he was willing to run and climb a tree. For a Middle-Eastern man to run would have shown embarrassment, picking up his robe and baring his legs. He was short and could not see over the crowds of people so he needed elevation and found it by a sycamore tree.
When Jesus passed by he called Zac by name saying, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today”. Can you imagine the thought’s running through Zac’s mind?
– How did Jesus know my name?
– I cannot believe he is coming to my house. I’m so excited.
– I cannot believe he is coming to my house. I’m not ready.
– I always eat alone. I don’t have enough chairs or table space.
– My house is not ready for guests.
– What will I cook? I haven’t shopped in days, I have been busy traveling, extorting all my customers.
– I wonder what we will talk about. I hope he doesn’t ask me about my finances….
- Yikes, he did! “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if [since] I have defrauded anyone, I restore it fourfold.”
Jesus invited himself, and likely the 12 disciples, to a man’s house for dinner. This would have been invasive. Even more, for Jesus a Jewish Rabbi to discourse and dine at the house of a sinful man would have been scandalous to the religious leaders.
Jesus does this today – he invades your life. You cannot be casual with Jesus; he sees all the mess, touches everything on the shelves of our lives and replaces all the furniture with new items.
Abraham Kupyer “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
Proverbs 15:23 “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, observing the wicked and the good.”
Habakuk 1:13 “[God’s] eyes are too pure to look on evil and cannot tolerate wrongdoing.”
Revelation 1:14 “His eyes were like a flame of fire”
A man who had few friends, suddenly had a friend in Jesus. Jesus talked with & to [not about] him; Jesus transformed [converted] him and God’s grace resulted in Zac’s generosity. In response to Jesus’ Lordship, Zac gave belongings to the poor & need and he made restitution by repaying those he wronged. These are signs [not means or the source] of salvation; bearing fruit with repentance (Luke 3:8).
And even more, Luke is showing us between these passages that there is joy, not in hoarding but in helping, not in storing up for self but in sharing out for others. Generosity is God-like. God is the greatest giver – giving us Himself, salvation, forgiveness, eternal life, heaven, love, peace, joy.
As a Christian,
à Are you generous? Again, money is not the issue, idolatry is the issue. Jesus did not tell Zac to redistribute his wealth so everyone is equal. Instead, Jesus shows him generosity and Zac seeks to be a channel of blessing and grace to others just the same.
- God gives wealth for one purpose, just like all His blessings – to magnify His name. So, your treasure, talents and time are all blessings to bless others in His name. Are you doing that?
Some of you here today have viewed Jesus from a distance, seen Him as a category of commandments. Others have been vaguely interested and have occasionally climbed trees to get a glimpse. TODAY, Jesus has met you. Jesus is calling you by name and saying, “I want to be your friend. I want you to believe, trust and treasure me more than anything else. And if you follow me your life will never be the same. You will be filled with grace and generosity and you will never look back with regrets, joy awaits you like never before. There will be challenges and difficulties. But I will be with you. Will you join me?”
Today, salvation has come to this house.
Will you joyfully receive Jesus?
Jesus has come to seek and save the lost.
Is this your mission?
 In January 2013, I will be preaching a series on the 10 Commandments, their significance and application for believers today.