THE UNLOVABLE - OUTCAST

“The Unlovable”

Luke 19:1–10 ESV

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus was accused to be a friend of sinners...

Big Idea of the Message: As the story of Zacchaeus illustrates, Jesus loves even the people we view as “unlovable.”

This week’s message is directly related to last week’s text. Week 1 of the series is about being open and loving to the outcast. Here, the rubber meets the road. The truth is, some outcasts are more challenging to love than others. Zacchaeus was hated by the people because he, a Jew, betrayed his Jewish community by siding with the Romans. On top of this, he also cheated the people out of their money by charging more taxes than what was required.

What can we learn from Jesus’ interaction with Zacchaeus about loving the “unlovable” the OUTCAST.

Loving the unlovable Jesus way

I.  Jesus view people in relationship with God

Jesus sees people in relation to God not their status in life, not in what they have or not, not in what attain or not, not if they are wise or not and the list goes on… Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came with a single purpose of saving those who are lost, those who are disconnected with God, those who are disconnected in the life of God, those who are in the darkness-cut-off from the light of God. He came to save the lost through his ultimate sacrifice of himself on the cross and rising from the dead after three days.

Luke 19:10 ESV
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

THERE ARE ONLY TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE, THE LOST OR THE FOUND

In our story today, we find Zacchaeus.

Luke 19:2 ESV And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.

What is there to hate about Zacchaeus? From the eyes of the Romans, he is well loved and well liked. He works for the Roman Empire collecting taxes. But from the eyes of the Jews, he is hated. He became rich for collecting more than what's required. The people saw him as a chief of sinners. He might be rich but the only people around him are those who stick around for their own benefits.

We’re not sure if this is the first time Jesus encountered Zacchaeus. But from where Zacchaeus collects taxes, we can assume that they had encountered in the past or his disciples because they were the ones who pay taxes to the taxman.

 Jesus see the rich man, the religious, the centurion, the common, the leper, the adulterer through the lense of their relationship with God. If they are lost they need Jesus.

Jesus looked Necodemus and said,

John 3:3 ESV Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and said,

Matthew 19:21 ESV Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus looked at the woman caught in adultery,

John 8:10–11 ESV Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

We can go on with many of Jesus encounter with the outcast and we will find that he looked and treated each one of them with love.

Romans 5:8 ESV but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Every religion in the world have they way of categorizing people. It boils down to have and have nots. If you contribute you will be accepted and esteemed but if you don't have and rely on their system, you will be on the bottom.

Jesus teaching is opposite to the world:

Matthew 5:43 ESV “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

Matthew 5:44 ESV But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Mark 12:31 ESV The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

God chose the weak...

1 Corinthians 1:26–29 ESV For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
 

But sad to say that even his followers don't always get it and so do we

James sharply rebuked believers in his book

James 2:1–5 ESV My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

LOOK AT UNLOVABLE AS OBJECT OF GOD'S LOVE TOO

II.  Jesus view sin as sin

THERE IS ONLY ONE DEFINITION OF SIN

Transgression of God's will, either by doing what he forbids or failing to do what he requires

How do you define sin? How does our society define sin? Who gets the label sinner and saints?

Those present did not see themselves a sinner or maybe they think that they are better than Zacchaeus - chief tax collector working for the Romans.

Luke 19:7 ESV And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

Luke 15:1–2 ESV Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Matthew 9:10–11 ESV And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

There were different people tailgating or following Jesus during his ministry on earth and religious leaders were some of them. The Pharisees and the scribes have labelled Zacchaeus and the people around him “sinners” They assumed the authority in labelling people based on their own views, preferences and traditions.

"The generality make out their righteousness by comparing themselves with some others whom they think worse" John Newton

Mark 7:11–13 ESV But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

There is only one standard, God not man

Romans 3:9 ESV What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,

Romans 3:23 ESV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Isaiah 59:2 ESV but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Man for ages tried to replace sin with other names to make it sounds right.

Galatians 5:19–21 ESV Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

As the old song says, "how can it be wrong when it feels right?" This is guiding principle of our society today. Truth, morality is determined by feelings . If it feels right do it.

Proverbs 14:12 ESV There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 21:2 ESV Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.
God dealt with our sin problem through Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 ESV “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The gospel: Christ died for our sin

1 Corinthians 15:3–4 ESV For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

1 Peter 3:18 ESV For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

No one is unreachable with the love of God. 

Ephesians 3:18–19 ESV may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The width of God’s love extends across the entire world and includes everyone he has created: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does” (Psalm 145:17 NIV).

God never made a person that he didn’t love. He made you and he loves you — and God doesn’t make junk! He loves you unconditionally. He loves you very, very much.

Everybody matters to God. In fact, we see in the life of Jesus that he even loves the unlovely and those who may feel unlovable. Do you want to know the secret of self-esteem? Here it is: If you want confidence, then understand how much you matter to God. If God loves you, who cares what anybody else thinks?

Because God loves you, there’s no need to prove your self-worth. We don’t have to wear certain kinds of clothes to make us feel like we’re OK or drive a certain kind of car to prop up our faltering egos. We don’t need status symbols anymore.

Looking at sin that way Jesus looks at sin

III. Jesus sees GOD always at work

As we examine closely the story we will observe the following:

Luke 19:3 ESV And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.

Zaccaheus was not just curious about Jesus, he is interested to know more about him. He did not allow his small stature to hinder him but...

Luke 19:4 ESV So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.

By doing this, he placed himself in a humbling position to be rideculed by people. He ignored these. And when Jesus called him

Luke 19:5 ESV And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

Luke 19:6 ESV So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

No one took notice of him the way Jesus did. All what he hears all the time are curses, complaints and many hurtful words because of who he is and what he did.

There was no record of Jesus teaching or preaching while in the house of Zacchaeus. And yet the next verse will reveal the true condition of this man’s heart.

Luke 19:8 ESV And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

This is a show of repentance.

Matthew 3:8 ESV Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

Matthew 3:9 ESV And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

God is also at work in the lives of the outcast.

2 Peter 3:9 ESV The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God placed Zacchaeus in the path of Jesus and his disciples. It is safe to assume that some of his disciples had a chance to engage Zacchaeus when they pay their taxes to him.

The Father brings people to himself. He is at work

Matthew 11:27 ESV

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

BELIEVE GOD IS ALWAYS AT WORK

IV.  Jesus meet people where they are

Jesus met Zacchaues. He reached out to him.

Luke 19:10 ESV For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The Son of Man was on a rescue mission to seek and to save the lost. We too are on a rescue mission to seek and to connect the lost back to God. When we are on a rescue mission, we go not wait.

Jesus said in his Great commission,

Matthew 28:19 ESV Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Our church has room to grow in this area.

WE NEED TO MEET PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE

YES! we can love the UNLOVABLE - THE OUTCAST by

1. Looking at them as God's object of His love

2. Looking at sin that way God looks at sin

3. Believing that God is always at work

4. Meeting them where they are

Discussion Guide

1.    Who would be deemed by our culture as unlovable or an outcast?

2.    Why was Jesus’ pursuit of Zacchaeus such a surprise/offense to everyone?

3.    How did Zacchaeus act out his change of heart? How have you experienced and demonstrated transformation because of your relationship with Jesus?

4.    Is there anyone in your life you might have labeled “unlovable”? How can you show them God’s love?

5.    How can I pray for you?