This year, God has called us to invite people to “Come on in!”, to break down barriers and build bridges for people to come to Jesus. This evening, we’re going to make that the focus of our prayers and worship. To start, we’re going to first look through a popular account of the travels of Jesus and His ability to transform a life.
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
First of all, we see who Zacchaeus is. He is defined by his weaknesses and his sin. We can conclude from Luke’s account that Zacchaeus was viewed by others as not much more than a short guy who stole from the people of Jericho so that he could be rich. A short, tax collecting sinner.
However, there was something just a bit more about him. Luke wrote “He wanted to see who Jesus was”.
This was a key in the life of Zacchaeus that Jesus took note of that so many others missed. I believe that Zacchaeus wanted to change, that he needed hope. He needed someone to see him for who he knew he could be – far more than a short, tax collecting sinner!
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All that Zacchaeus needed was a simple invitation. At that invitation, Zacchaeus gladly opened his home to Jesus and gladly welcomed Jesus, as well as His salvation!
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Of course, the people ridiculed Jesus for this choice.
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
As a result of a very simple invitation, Zacchaeus’ life had been transformed! He immediately desired to repent of his sins and change his way of life!
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Tonight, I believe that Jesus is challenging our church. I believe that there are many in our community like Zacchaeus. Their lives have been defined by their mistakes and their shortcomings. They have lost hope in themselves and that things can change for them. They are simply lost.
Jesus is calling us to be ones who will simply care about them and not ignore them. He’s calling us to invite them to “Come on in!” and give them the hope that they long for. He’s calling us to join His mission to seek and save those who are lost!
This Sunday, we’re going to learn of an awesome opportunity to do exactly this. Although this opportunity will not be revealed tonight, we’re going to take time to pray and intercede that God would give us His heart for our community and for any who are hopeless within it. After all, we’re well aware that there is hope! We worship a God who makes all things new! We worship a God who brings beauty from ashes! We worship a God who can work all things together for our good and His glory!