Seek the Lord and Surely He Will Come unto You
June 12, 2005
Debbie Ploe, Certified Lay Speaker
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Luke: 19:1 – 10
Jesus and Zacchaeus
1Jesus went into Jericho and was passing through. 2There was a chief tax collector there named Zacchaeus, who was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a little man and could not see Jesus because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to Zacchaeus, “Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today.”
6Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed him with great joy. 7All the people who saw it started grumbling, “This man has gone as a guest to the home of a sinner!”
8Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Listen, sir! I will give half my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”
9Jesus said to him, “Salvation has come to this house today, for this man, also, is a descendant of Abraham. 10The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Good Morning! The title of my sermon today is “Seek the Lord and Surely He Will Come unto You”. I want to talk with you this morning about three things: 1) Seeking Jesus; 2) Inviting Jesus into our hearts; 3) Passing on the joy of Jesus.
I am glad you are all here. I wonder why you are here. Do you know why you are here? Perhaps you are here to seek Jesus Christ? Perhaps you are here to become a more deeply committed follower of Jesus Christ? I hope that is so! That’s why I am here today.
Let’s talk about this man named Zacchaeus. It tells us in the Bible that Zacchaeus was a small man. Maybe he was about my height. Zacchaeus was a disliked tax collector. Perhaps he was on his way home or maybe he was still collecting taxes and maybe he did not need to go through the crowd at all. Although it tells us that Jesus came to seek the lost, don’t you get the feeling that Zacchaeus was seeking also?
In verse 3 it tells us that Zacchaeus was trying to see Jesus through the crowd. It says, “He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a little man and could not see Jesus because of the crowd.” I can tell you first hand that when you are not tall it is difficult to see anyone in a crowd. Years ago I went with a group of people to see the fireworks at Liberty State Park. It was an awesome fireworks display! We had a great time! But when it was time to go, the crowd pushed and we were like sardines in a sardine can. There was a long fence surrounding the area that we were in and it only had a small gate. The crowd pushed so hard that the entire fence went down and we all walked over it. I could barely see the heads of my friends who were going in a different direction and saying to me “Debbie we need to go this way”.
All I could manage to do was to reach my hand up, barely high enough for them to see, and wave ‘good-bye’ since I was going in the opposite direction and I had no control over where I was going, because my feet were not even touching the ground. The crowd had scooped me up and I was moving where they were taking me. So, I can tell you that for Zacchaeus to get through that crowd and to climb that sycamore tree, so that he could see Jesus, he was very determined! Zacchaeus wanted to seek Jesus.
How about you? Are you willing take time from your crowded day to seek Jesus in your daily life? I know it is not easy with the busy schedules we all have. Perhaps we can take 10 minutes to pray in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. I have a proud story to tell you about a young man who is very dear to me and who found a way to put Jesus first. My youngest brother has 2 children that I love very much. They used to be able to sleep over my house more often than they do now because they are so busy with activities. Well, during a certain period of time my brother was coaching several soccer teams that my nephew and niece were involved with. As the coach my brother did not schedule any games for Sundays. During this time he took his children to church and my nephew (my godson) was able to make his First Holy Communion. I am very proud of my brother for doing that and for teaching the kids to pray at night before bed. He is teaching them to seek Jesus. I know many of you are here to seek Jesus and to teach your children to seek Jesus by bringing them to church and to Sunday school. That is great! I remember one of my Mom’s favorite things to say was “Seek and you shall find”.
Now, back to Zacchaeus, who was so determined to see Jesus that he got himself up into a sycamore tree. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, He said “There you are! I need you! Let me stay in your house today!” Quickly Zacchaeus came down and he welcomed Jesus with great JOY! For me, this is symbolic of Zacchaeus inviting Jesus into his heart. Once Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus into his home and his heart, he was a changed man.
I don’t know about you, but I try to invite Jesus into my heart over and over. There have been times when I invited Jesus into my heart and I immediately felt the ‘spiritual awakening’. One time was right here in this sanctuary, during our Lay Speaker’s Certification Class. We each had to do a miniature sermon. Pastor Tony did such a great job teaching us that I was moved to tears by most of the sermons. Then when I completed mine I felt like I was floating on air as I walked back down to my seat.
Have you been blessed with such an experience? Recently we had new members received into our congregation and they were inviting Jesus into their hearts. I always find the New Member Receptions to be spiritually uplifting. I hope that you will invite Jesus into your hearts on a regular basis.
Zacchaeus was so moved by the blessings that Jesus gave him by calling him by name and by needing him that he wanted to give back something good. Isn’t it a great feeling to be needed and to be able to fulfill the need?
There is so much that we need to have done just to have a Sunday service, that it takes a lot of people to fill these needs. So many people are asked to help here at church because God needs them. Thank God they say “yes”! We have wonderful services here with the contributions of the choirs, the organist, the ushers, the secretary, the sound people, having the altar set-up so nicely, our Pastor’s preaching, the help from our youth, the coffee hour helpers, our custodians and so much more.
Isn’t great to be needed? I am so blessed to have wonderful nieces and nephews and when they come to me and they say “Aunt Deb, can I have ....or can we go....” I am filled with great joy to be able to fulfill their need and say to them “Yes, you can” or “Yes, we can”! Isn’t great to be able to say ‘yes’ to your children?
It tells us in verse 8 that Zacchaeus was so full of joy after being needed by Jesus that he wanted to pass it on. He wanted to give the goodness to someone else. It says in verse 8, “Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Listen, sir! I will give half my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.’” Did you catch that first part? Zacchaeus said “I will give half my belongings to the poor.” He wanted to pass on the goodness that was given to him. Let me tell you a story about passing on something good.
I have a younger sister who is 5 years younger than me. When we were teenagers, being older, I made more money than she did and so sometimes I was able to give her something nice. She would say to me “Sis, how can I thank you enough? What can I do to repay you for this?” I would tell her “Someday, do something nice for someone else.”
Years have gone by and we are no longer teenagers. About a week ago my sister was telling me a story about her leather coat that did not fit her anymore. She took the leather coat to work and gave it to a woman at work who was very grateful. My sister told me, “Sis, the woman was so happy that she wanted to pay something for the coat. I told her no, it is a gift, it is o-k. But the woman insisted that she must give me something for the coat. So, I told her that the best way that she could repay me was to someday give something to someone else.”
Wow, was I moved by that! Isn’t it great to pass on the goodness? So many of you are passing on the joy of Jesus by bringing your children to church. Many of you have grown children and you must be so proud when you hear that your children are passing on the joy of Jesus by bringing your grandchildren to church.
In conclusion, the first thing that Zacchaeus did was to Seek Jesus. The second thing he did was to Invite Jesus into his heart. Finally, the third thing that Zacchaeus did was to Pass On the joy of Jesus.
How about you? Are you willing to do these three things? Will you take the Mission Statement of Montgomery United Methodist Church to heart and seek Jesus in your daily life, so that you will become a more deeply committed follower of Jesus Christ, so that you will be able ‘to help people become deeply committed followers of Jesus Christ’? I hope so!
I invite you to do as Zacchaeus did...
1) Seek the Lord and Surely He will come unto you!
2) Invite Jesus into your heart!
3) Pass on the joy of Jesus!
God bless you! May God always be with you! AMEN.
© 2005 Debbie Ploe