- Sermon Notes
Spending Your Life Well
As we continue our study through the book of Luke, Jesus is now heading toward Jerusalem. He is coming up to Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley and here in Luke 19 He passes through Jericho.
As He is going on His way, the crowds have been growing greater. They have been amazed as they hear Jesus confront the leaders of Israel, confounding them with His wisdom. They saw Him heal a man who is blind.
But as Jesus is coming through Jericho, He does something the crowds can’t understand. He reaches out to a sinner and saves his soul and brings him into the kingdom of God. But he’s not just any sinner; he is despised by the Jews because he’s a tax collector. And he’s not just any tax collector either; Luke tells us that he is a chief tax collector.
The crowning verse of the whole section is when Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” In another place Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
But a powerful part of the story is also seen in how the man’s life is transformed as he responds to Jesus reaching out to him. How we respond to the love of God and how we spend our lives as a result is the lesson of the story.
The city of Jericho that Jesus came through would have been a mile or so from the ancient city of Jericho that had been destroyed when Israel first entered the Promised Land, when they were led by Joshua. This newly rebuilt Jericho would have been the Palm Springs of the ancient world. It was warm all year round, date palms created a thriving market and there were more golf courses per capita than any city in Israel.
I. Blessed are the Hungry
- Zaccheus is an interesting man. He is Jewish, given a name that means just or righteous, and certainly not living up to the meaning of his name. He is short in stature and you can imagine the teasing and cruelty of other children as he was growing up.
- But now, he’s not just a tax collector, he’s a chief tax collector; and though he is rich and powerful, he’s despised by the Jews.
- Many people can understand because they have strong feelings about paying taxes.
Illus - There’s also a story of a man who sent the IRS a check for $1500 and a letter saying, “I didn’t pay all my taxes and can’t sleep…”
- The Jews would have had even stronger feelings because they received no benefit. No schools or roads or hospitals were built with those taxes, it all went to Rome; well, not all of it, tax gathering was a business. They would bid for the rights and then charge whatever they could extract.
- But there was something happening in Zaccheus, he wanted to see who Jesus was. No doubt he had heard many things about Him. No doubt he also would’ve heard that Jesus had invited a tax collector to be one of His disciples; that was Matthew, also called Levi.
- Who you want to see says a lot about your heart.
- But he was short in stature, so he ran on ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. He’s hungry, he wants to see Jesus, and he’s willing to humiliate himself, a rich and powerful man, to see Jesus.
A. The kindness of God leads to repentance
- As Jesus and the crowd come his way, Jesus stops, looks up and says, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”
- The goodness of God, the kindness of Jesus comes to Zaccheus. Indeed, he hurries down and receives Jesus gladly.
- Jesus knows his name, He knows all the pain Zaccheus had been carrying, He knew the emptiness and the loneliness, but He also knew the hunger of his heart and he pours all the love and kindness of God into him.
Romans 2:4, Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
- It’s personal when we realize that Jesus knows our name as well; He knows the pain and the emptiness of our soul, and He also knows when there is a sincere desire for God to do something about it.
- When blind Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus replied, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
- The crowd, however, begins to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” You would think they would be excited to imagine a tax collector getting saved.
- Maybe this is something about the human condition; when it comes to us, we want grace and mercy from God, but when it comes to others, we want justice!
B. We are changed when we are with Jesus
- Jesus and Zaccheus go to his house. They would have shared a meal together, that would have extreme significance to a Jew.
- Can you imagine sharing a meal with Jesus? What an amazing experience! Sharing, fellowshipping, talking, sharing stories and laughing.
- At some point Zaccheus says, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”
- He is with Jesus and he is being changed. Notice that he wasn’t asked to do these things, he did them because of something amazing happening in his heart.
- We know that God wants to transform us, to make us new, but how? By igniting our hearts. We are changed when we are with Jesus and delighting in our fellowship with Him.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18, If anyone is in Christ, he is the new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ…
Revelation 21:1-6 “Behold, I make all things new.”
- The picture of heaven is of having fellowship with our God and we are also told in the book of Revelation that there will be eating in heaven as well. Hallelujah! That’s a picture of fellowship and relationship and that’s what transforms us.
II. Live Wisely Until He Returns
- Zaccheus’ changed life brings us beautifully into a parable that Jesus gave to the crowd next.
- The reason for the parable is because they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.
- Jesus said that it is just like a nobleman about to go on a journey. He called his servants to himself and entrusted great possessions to them.
- When I first read this parable many years ago, I didn't know what a mina was and I assumed it meant the gifts and abilities God had given me.
- There is a similar parable where servants are given "talents." Our words talent actually comes from this very idea. It originally meant "a weight of money," with the value determined by whether it was gold, silver, or copper.
- This parable has great significance and it has affected many people in a powerful way because it draws us into an understanding of what God wants us to do with our lives.
A. God expects us to spend our life well
- The whole point of this parable is that God entrusts to us our heart, soul, mind and strength and expects us to use these things for His glory.
- He also gives us our abilities, our capacities to learn and to grow and expects us to use that as well for His glory.
Luke 12:48, ... From everyone who has been given much, much will be expected.
- The picture of the wise servant is one who received from his master and then invested it, in other words, he did something with it, which produced something more.
- Perhaps he invested in a crop, or something similar, but the idea is that he put it somewhere where it could grow and bear much fruit.
- The point is to be about your Father's business. What is your Father doing? He's changing lives and that's what He wants you to be about as well.
Illus - God gives spiritual gifts to the church; for what reason? Every spiritual gift is given for the purpose of building up and edifying the church.
- It's all about being faithful to what God has asked us to do with our lives.
- Why are some people not making a difference and producing godly fruit?
Luke 8:14, "The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard the Word, but as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity."
James 4:3, You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
- It's also interesting that he rewards them according to their abilities. We could be jealous over other people’s abilities, but it would just take away from the blessing of what we have been given.
- You can’t enjoy the blessings God has given you if you are jealous over what God gives others.
Illus - I remember a critical turning point in my life when a pastor challenged me to have something to show for how I spent my life.
Illus - I also remember another pastor who challenged me to use what God had given me for His glory.
B. God blesses faithfulness
- This is one of those themes that we see over and over in the Word of God; God blesses faithfulness.
- Here we see it again in this parable. The man entrusted his possessions to his servants and expected them to produce fruit with how they lived their lives. But then they must give an account, but also receive rewards.
- In this parable, the master accused the servant who hid his mina of being a worthless servant because he didn't even do the simplest thing with what he had been given.
Illus - When the man hid the mina in a handkerchief, what then did he do with his time? Did he become a master of videogames? Did he become an expert in the top 10 teams in the PAC 12?
Some people spend their life blaming others. That's what the last one did.
Others don't do anything because they believe their life is of little value. But God gave His Son for you, gave you His Word, gave His Holy Spirit, and the very life you live. What more should He give?
- One of the greatest rewards we could ever receive would be to simply hear those words found in verse 17, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.”
- We may not fully understand what it means to have rewards in heaven, but one thing is for certain, we should desire them.
Matthew 6:20, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Luke 12:32-44 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds on the alert when he comes.
Luke 19:1-27 NASB