Going Out On A Limb Might Be Risky!

CHEERS is an American sitcom that ran on television from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993.  The show is set in a bar named Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meets to drink, relax, and socialize.  The show’s main theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy lent its famous refrain “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” is the show’s tagline.

CHEERS, (from left): Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Paul Wilson, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt, 1982-93. ©Paramount Television / courtesy Everett Collection

Everyone likes to be known by their name.

Everyone likes to know that someone knows their name and knows their name and knows them.  It shows intimacy; it shows that the person has put in some effort to actually get to know you.  Unfortunately today, we seldom are known by our names, but rather by a number.  You have to know your ID number by heart: When you complete forms you have to enter your ID number.  When you complete your Tax Return you have a number that was given to you, and you only.  We have become numbers to people and it’s impersonal reflecting an unwillingness to know you as a person.  And even if they know your name, they probably are not willing to spend the time to get to know you better.

There is no personal relationship!

I understand that it’s impractical to suggest that everyone we meet can’t have a personal relationship.  It’s just impossible.

But with JESUS, it’s a different story.  For JESUS we are not just another name.  JESUS knows my name and He knows your name and He knows us! He knows our innermost being!!

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 19:1-10:

WHO WAS ZACCHAEUS?

Zacchaeus is a Jewish name (it means he was a Jew) AND…it means “Pure One.”

Not only was this man a tax collector, he was the Director of the tax collectors…CHIEF among the publicans (KJV).  The Greek term indicates that it seems Zacchaeus was a tax commissioner over the district of Jericho.  He more than likely purchased this position from the Roman authorities.

The local JEWS hated those who worked for Rome because often if not always, overtaxed them.  That’s how they made their money.  They didn’t receive a salary but received either a percentage of the tax they collected or…Rome would give them amount to collect and anything more was theirs.

So we know and see Zacchaeus was a powerful man and he was a very rich man.

The GOSPEL also tells us something else about this man…

This I believe, is extremely important, but often taken as just another piece of information.

Zacchaeus was a short man.

WHAT DID ZACCHAEUS DO WHILE BEING IN A TREE?

He tried to see who Jesus was.  He couldn’t see Him because of the crowd and because of his height.  I think it was even probable that the crowd might have noticed him trying to see Jesus, standing on his tip-toes, but they blocked him on purpose because of who he was.

They hated him!

Because of this, Zacchaeus climbed a nearby TREE to see Jesus better.

He was a JEW and he knew about the prophecies.

  • He probably heard about Jesus and that he was the Prophesied Messiah.
  • He heard that THIS MAN was the savior of the Jewish people
  • He heard that THIS MAN was the savior of the Jewish people.
  • He heard that this man had performed miracles and healed the sick.

He wanted to see who this man was…but nobody wanted to give him the opportunity because of who he was.

So he climbed a tree and Jesus called him and told him that He wanted to go to his house and stay there.

AND HERE COMES THE THING…

Zacchaeus was glad to WELCOME Jesus into his home.

Luke 19:6 – The MESSAGE Bible:

“Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him.”

WHAT DID THE CROWD DO?

The people voiced their disapproval at Jesus eating at the house of a sinner.  Remember, a tax collector was seen as a SINNER; they were not allowed in the synagogue or the Temple.  “Sorry, but you are not welcome at church!”  So the Rabbis and the people rejected these people.

What it meant that Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ name.

JESUS SHOWS THAT HE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE!

Even if you hide, He knows where you are.  He knew where Zacchaeus was.

Zacchaeus was probably HIDING IN THE TREE when Jesus and the parade of people came by; He knew exactly where Zacchaeus was!  I’m sure that he didn’t want anyone to see him in the TREE because it could have damaged his standing in the community.

So Zacchaeus was hiding in the tree, hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus as He passes by.  He was HAPPY with only a glimpse of Jesus.

But then Jesus does the unexpected!

Jesus stood still under that tree and He called him.  By doing this Jesus recognized that He knew where Zacchaeus was.

As hard as Zacchaeus tried, he wasn’t invisible to Him.  Maybe the CROWD missed him there out on a limb, but Jesus didn’t!

JESUS KNEW WHERE HE WAS.

But not just that, Jesus knew the situation he was in:

JESUS KNEW his past…

JESUS KNEW his childhood…

JESUS KNEW all his secrets…

JESUS KNEW all the pain he had to endure and still endures.

JESUS saw all the tears that flowed when Zacchaeus was growing up regarding the importance of mentioning his size.  It was important to mention it in order to explain why he was in the tree in the first place.

But I wanted to go deeper in thought about Zacchaeus’ character.

I believe that Zacchaeus was probably MOCKED as a child growing up because of his stature.  I’m sure the neighborhood kids during his time were much like children today.  They can be cruel by belittling other children.  In today’s culture, they call it “bullying”.  Because of the “bullying,” not all children grow up forgetting these experiences.  Some children grow up with these experiences and the hurt grows with them, in them.  They never heal from it.  Some of them will even go to the extreme

Some of them will even go to the extreme and dream of one day being in a position of POWER and then they will show them.

I believe that Zacchaeus was one of those children.  He was MOCKED because of being ‘altitude challenged’ and that’s why he eventually became a tax collector.

THE PROBLEM…NOTHING can really fill that void of HUMILIATION, EXCEPT JESUS!!

Zacchaeus tried but never succeeded…and then Jesus called him by name.

“Zacchaeus come down!  I must stay at your house today.”

AND THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE.

Maybe you find yourself hiding out on a limb of a tree.

Maybe you are struggling with certain things in your life right now.

Maybe you are living a sinful life and cannot comprehend that JESUS would even look upon you, much less talk to you or call out your name. You can’t think that He can forgive you for what you have done.

HERE SOME GOOD NEWS for you!

JESUS is standing right next to you where you are and He is calling your name…

Low Self-Esteem –

Maybe there are things in your life that have broken down your self-worth, your self-esteem.  You might be in an abusive relationship with your husband or wife, physical or psychological.  You might not enjoy life as it is supposed to be enjoyed (John 10:10).  You are being abused and it has hardened your heart towards everyone, including God.

Maybe you blame God for what’s happening in your life…

MAYBE HE HAS ABANDONED YOU…

He hasn’t.

He sees you.  He sees what you are going through.

He sees your pain and He cries with you.  Tears are running down His cheeks.

AND YET, GOD IS CALLING YOUR NAME!

“Get out of that tree.  I want to stay at your house.”

Some people are happy with getting a glimpse of Jesus as He crosses their path.

BUT JESUS WANTS MORE THAN THAT FROM US!

Jesus is calling your name where you are.  So, you will have to come down out of that tree and meet Him on a personal level.

Understand this:  It is not us who called Jesus.  He called us first!

John 15:16 (NIV):

[16] You did not choose me, but I chose you…

Ephesians 1:4 (AMP):

[4] Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world…

He calls us first and on that CROSS He called out your name.

All you have to do is to give heed to His call and come!

ZACCHAEUS was carrying a heavy load.  All it took for him was to listen to Jesus’ call.

“Zacchaeus, come down…I want to stay at your house.”

ISAIAH 49:16 (NIV):

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

When Jesus was nailed to the CROSS, your NAME was engraved on His palms.  ENGRAVING is a process that is permanent.  That’s how much He LOVES you.  That’s how much He CARES for you.

HE KNOWS YOUR NAME BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE!

Jesus Recognizes and Sees the Potential in All of Us–

Zacchaeus means Pure, Righteous.  But the people didn’t see him as “pure” and “righteous”.  However, JESUS saw the REAL Zacchaeus–He knew who he was supposed to be.

WE HAVE PURPOSE!

Jesus doesn’t see who we are, He sees who we are supposed to be.

The world sees us as they want to see us.  They see us because of what we do, what we portray, who we are.  They see only our number or title.

BUT JESUS SEES WHO WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

He sees Zacchaeus as pure and righteous.  He sees POTENTIAL.

You see, you and I were created for a PURPOSE: Romans 8:28-20 (NAS):

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

YOU ARE ALREADY CALLED!  YOU WERE PREDESTINED!!

The question now becomes…Will you listen and take your calling with both hands?  ZACCHAEUS DID!

When Jesus came to his house that day he had a change of heart because for the FIRST TIME in his life somebody saw the REAL him.

For the FIRST TIME, someone ate with him.  Not because of what he had, nor because of his power or money or status.  But because of who he was. At that moment the void in him was filled–he knew that he was worth something more than money.

JESUS SHOWS THAT WE ARE PART OF THE FAMILY (v. 9):

[9] Today salvation has come to this house…

Zacchaeus lineage didn’t bring SALVATION, but his FAITH, evidenced by public confession, sure did!

JESUS sees him as part of the family.

But people will not always look at you that way.  When you repent of your sins and you accept JESUS as your savior, then you reveal your Family Relationship, your true identity.

When Jesus Called Zacchaeus’ Name He Showed That He Knew Where He Was.

He showed that he had PURPOSE and…He showed that he was part of the Family of God!

Somewhere on your journey, you may have lost that sense of family.  But JESUS is calling you right where you are.  HE’S CALLING YOU BY NAME!

JESUS wants you to come down from your tree and to accept Him into your home, into your life.  He wants to dine with you.  He wants to feed you and protect you.  But He can only do this if you LISTEN to His CALL.

AND HE IS CALLING YOUR NAME!

____________________________________________

CREDITS:

Harper’s Bible Dictionary: PUBLICANS, pg. 84.

Sermon Notes from Searching For Answers? A Candid Look At The Life Of A Seeker by Mike Dankson.

PHOTOS:  Google’s Advanced Image Search.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

 

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2 thoughts on “Going Out On A Limb Might Be Risky!

  1. Truly heart-tugging! I especially like the part where you said, “As hard as Zacchaeus tried, he wasn’t invisible to Him. Maybe the CROWD missed him there out on a limb, but Jesus didn’t!” It can be truly terrifying and comforting at the same time to know that Jesus never misses us, especially when we try to hide! Thank you, Mel, for this very encouraging post.

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