Share This Episode
Renewing Your Mind R.C. Sproul Logo

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2023 12:01 am

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1343 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

May 14, 2023 12:01 am

When Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree, He saw a lost soul whom the Father had given Him to save. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his expositional series in the gospel of Luke to consider the appointed day when salvation came to the house of a notorious tax collector.

Get R.C. Sproul's Expositional Commentary on the Gospel of Luke for Your Gift of Any Amount:

Don't forget to make your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick
More Than Ink
Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
In Touch
Charles Stanley

And what Jesus said was, all whom the Father has given Me will come to Me, and all who come to Him, of that number not one will ever be lost. Now obviously when Jesus saw Zacchaeus in that tree, He knew that He was one whom the Father had given to Him. If you grew up in the church, you likely grew up singing about Zacchaeus, that short man who climbed a sycamore tree. And although he was up that tree because he was short and wanted to see Jesus, he was in that tree for a far more significant reason. Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. When we're familiar with a Bible story, we can tend to skim over it and miss the truth that's contained in it. Each Lord's Day as R.C. Sproul is walking us through the Gospel of Luke, today we come to the well-known story of Zacchaeus. You might think that this is simply a Sunday school lesson or a song that we sing, but Zacchaeus was a real man, and the truth contained in this story is relevant for each one of us. Here's Dr. Sproul.

Sproul, Jr. Thanks be to God. We're going to start a new chapter, chapter 19, and I will be reading chapter 19, verses 1 through 10.

I would ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. 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 grumbled. He is gone to be in 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've defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold. And Jesus said to him, today salvation has come to this house, since he also is the son of Abraham.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Now once again, we have been blessed to hear the very Word of God in this account of the encounter that Jesus had with Zacchaeus. I pray that as the Holy Spirit superintended and inspired this text, that He will also bring it to our minds and to our hearts on this morning.

And I ask you to please be seated. Let us pray. Again, our Father and our God, we thank You for the truth of Your Word, that we can rest in and live by, and that by the knowledge of Thy truth, we have been able to come to our salvation in Jesus Christ. And I pray that in this hour, if there's any among us who has never yet embraced the truth of Christ, if any person is still among us who remains lost, that by the hearing of Your Word today, they might come to saving faith in Christ. For we ask it in His name.

Amen. I think that Zacchaeus is one of the most popular characters in all of the New Testament, especially among children who learn of him through the song that they were taught in Sunday school. It went something like this. Zacchaeus was a wee little man. A wee little man was he. He climbed up into a sycamore tree. The Lord, he wanted to see. How many of you've heard that song? Great.

I was going to ask the choir to sing it for me this morning, but they already left, so we can't have them do that. But what I'd like to speak to this morning is a simple question, a single question, and that question is this. Why was Zacchaeus up in that tree? Now, there are several possible answers to that question, some of which are quite simple and indeed superficial, but I believe there are other answers to that question that are more significant and very important for us to understand.

Let me start with the simple and superficial answers to that question. The first answer to why he was in the sycamore tree is because he could be. That is not something that we take for granted because we understand that this whole event took place in New Testament Jericho. And if you know anything about the geography of Palestine and of the southern part of Judea, you know that for the most part, that area close to the Dead Sea is a barren wilderness and desert. But Jericho was a town that was built on a very large oasis. And so, in contrast to the neighboring area, Jericho was lush with vegetation, including trees, even sycamore trees.

So the first answer is simple. He was up in a sycamore tree because there was one there. The second answer to the question why he was in the tree is provided for us by the text itself.

It tells us something of this fellow Zacchaeus, that he was small in stature, and therefore he was vertically challenged. And the situation was such that he had a profound desire to see Jesus, whom he had never had laid eyes on before. And we know through and we know throughout the gospel accounts that are given that everywhere that Jesus went, he was accompanied by a thronging crowd or multitude of people who were so eager to see the latest miracle that he would perform, or to hear the uncanny words that came from his mouth. And Zacchaeus at least knew that much about Jesus, that wherever he would come, he would be surrounded by masses of people, and in all likelihood, he wouldn't even be able to see Him. So in anticipation of that opportunity, he looked for a vantage point from which he could look over the heads and shoulders of the surrounding crowds and would actually be able to see Jesus.

Now, there's a third reason why he was in the tree. And again, when we read about him, we are told that there was a man named Zacchaeus, and he was a chief tax collector and was rich. Now, if you know anything about tax collectors in the New Testament, we know that they were some of the most despised people in all of the country, because the taxes they collected were for the conquering Roman government, who was oppressing the Jewish people and imposing burdensome taxes upon them. And the tax collectors worked on a commission, and so they squeezed every penny that they could out of their own countrymen. They were considered traitors, quislings, people who worked for the enemy. And so as a result, they were despised. But if you consider how despised the tax collectors were in general, consider that Zacchaeus was not just a tax collector, he was a chief tax collector.

That is, he ranked at the highest level of tax collectors, which made him at the lowest level of those who despised him. And he understood that. And so he wasn't just interested in being able to see Jesus. He also wanted to seek some sort of safety from those who would surround him with hatred. And he sought that refuge in the Sycamore tree.

Now, those are the simple answers to the question why he was in the tree. But I think that there was a more significant answer to the question of why he was in the Sycamore tree, and it is this, that Zacchaeus was not so much in the Sycamore tree so that he could see Jesus, but rather he was in the Sycamore tree so that Jesus could see him. Now, we know that touching Jesus' human nature in all probability, he knew nothing about Zacchaeus.

He didn't know him from a cake of soap. But touching his divine nature, there never was a time that Zacchaeus was unknown to him. We know that George Whitefield commented in a sermon that touching his divine nature, Jesus knew Zacchaeus from the foundation of the earth. And just as in a supernatural way before he ever met Nathaniel in John's gospel, that he knew him in advance.

And let me just take a little detour for a second and look at the sixth chapter of John's gospel and consider an element of this activity by which Jesus knew from eternity about Zacchaeus. In chapter 6 verse 35, Jesus says this, "'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.

But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. But all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but to raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.'" Now, beloved, in this passage in John's gospel, we have the doctrine of election on steroids, because what Jesus is pronouncing to the disgruntlement of some of those who were there that day, and many of those who read the passage in our day, was that from all eternity, the Father had planned to save people out of this fallen humanity and give them as a gift to His beloved Son. And what Jesus said was, all whom the Father has given Me will come to Me. And all who come to Him of that number, not one will ever be lost. Now, obviously, when Jesus saw Zacchaeus in that tree, He knew that he was one whom the Father had given to Him.

And so, He interrupts this trip into Jericho. As He sees Zacchaeus perched upon that tree, and He looked at him, He recognized him, and He spoke to him, and He said, Zacchaeus, get down out of that tree, because I must come to your house today. Did you hear what Jesus said? There was a long tradition by the law set up in the Pentateuch in the Old Testament requiring Jewish people to give hospitality to strangers. But this wasn't simply a matter of fulfilling the hospitality requirements. When Jesus looked at Zacchaeus, He didn't say, Zacchaeus, look, it's your duty and responsibility to be kind to Me when I get hungry, and I would like for you please to give me an invitation to your home that I might be your guest for dinner.

That's not what He said. He said, Zacchaeus, get down, because I must come to your house today. The word must communicates urgency. The word must communicates necessity. And so, what Jesus was saying to this man in the tree, it's necessary that I come to your house today.

I must do it. I have a divine appointment, and that appointment was established at the foundation of the world. We are at a crossroads here between you and me, Zacchaeus.

I've been to many people's homes for dinner. In fact, Jesus, we are told, dined frequently with His enemies, the Pharisees. But there was something different about this occasion. Now, the first reason why Jesus said that He must go to the home of Zacchaeus is obvious. Zacchaeus was lost. And Jesus tells us that He came to seek and to save those who were lost. Now obviously, Zacchaeus had some interest in Jesus, some indirect knowledge of Him, if only from the buzz of rumor. And they were hearing crowds talking about this uncanny stranger, and he wanted to see what it was all about, interested enough to take his point of observation in the sycamore tree that he could see what Jesus was doing.

But he was lost. Beloved, there are people in this room right now who are lost. They may be interested in who Jesus was. They may be curious about what Christianity is all about. They may be here for the purpose of making contacts for business opportunities. Or they may be here because their spouse has dragged them kicking and screaming to be present here this morning. Or they may simply be here as a matter of tradition because as they were little children, their parents made them come to church, and that became part of their discipline as they grew up.

And just out of habit, they're gathering here on Sunday morning because that's what they always did. But they're still lost, just as Zacchaeus was lost. But we're told in the text that though Zacchaeus was presently at that moment in a lost condition, he did not remain in that state. As Jesus said, Zacchaeus, hurry up. Get down here.

I must stay at your house today. And so he hurried, and he came down, and he received him, not reluctantly, but joyfully. And when others saw it, they all grumbled. They said, there he goes again being the guest of a man who's a sinner. But Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.

Now that's a puzzling comment. And I wonder exactly at what moment he uttered those words to Jesus and what was the import of them. There are different ways we could read the statement that Zacchaeus made to Jesus. It could have been that when Jesus came or was moving with Him toward the home, Zacchaeus said, you know, I'm a tax collector, but don't be too hard on me, Jesus, because it's been my practice to be careful how I have wounded people in the past.

And if I've defrauded anybody, I make sure I return what I owe them. And I just want you to know that if you come here to seek and to save me, that I've repented of my bad deeds in the past, and I'm trying to do the right thing now. And so I hope that you'll trust that I've worked my way into the kingdom of God. If that was what Zacchaeus had in mind, it was one of the stupidest things the man ever thought in his life, because he should have known if he knew anything about Jesus that nobody can ever work their way into the kingdom of God.

But I suspect that's really not what Zacchaeus was saying, as it depends on at what moment he said it. But I suggest that in those words Zacchaeus was mentioning what he planned to do as a result of his conversion, because we're told that if we truly repent and come to Christ, whatever we can possibly do to make restitution for those whom we have injured or afflicted, that we go out of our way to do it, not because we think that by doing those works of restitution will save us, but rather they would indicate that the repentance from sin is authentic and genuine. And so after spending some time with Jesus, and after time He comes to true saving faith, the fruit of that repentance is indicated by what He would say, whatever I've done wrong, I'm going to try to make right.

And so I will give half of my goods to the poor, and if I've defrauded anyone, I will restore it fourfold. Now listen to what Jesus said to him, because this is the most important point. Today, today salvation has come to this house. Notice what Jesus didn't say. He didn't simply remark that today I have come to your house, and by the way I am the Savior, and so therefore the Savior has come to your house, because the Savior came to lots of homes in the past, and when He left those homes, the people weren't any different from when He came. Remember I said a few moments ago, there are some of you in this room right now who are still lost.

You haven't found your way. You don't know Christ in any saving way. I can think of no greater tragedy that could befall any person on this planet than to be lost from God, lost from the Redeemer. And Jesus said again His mission was to seek the lost. They don't seek Him, and the reason He wanted to seek them was so that He could save them. And so when He saw Zacchaeus, He sought him out to save him. And what the text says here is that on that day salvation came to the house of Zacchaeus. It wasn't just the Savior who came, but the Savior brought salvation with Him and to Him.

Now let me ask you this question that only you can answer. Has salvation ever been to your house? Has salvation ever come to you? I saw some photographs this week that our president of the Reformation Bible College took when he went on a trip to western Pennsylvania. I didn't know he was even going to go there, but when he went there he visited some important places where I had been, and he took a picture of the Ligonier Valley Study Center where Ligonier Ministries began. But he also went to New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, and he took a picture of Russell Hall where I lived as a freshman, room 108, where salvation came to my house. And I wanted to know, has he been to your house? You know if he's been there. You know if you're still lost. But there was this urgency in the message of Jesus when He said, I have to come to your house.

It's not an option. The evangelists are all the time giving invitations for people to come to Christ. Jesus didn't ask for an invitation to Zacchaeus' house.

I must come to your house. God never invites sinners to repent. It's a command.

It's an imperative. If you are lost, if you don't want to stay lost, it is necessary for Jesus to come to you. Again, I ask you, has salvation come to your house?

If it hasn't, and if it does, don't let it go until you are found by Him. The text ends with these words, Today salvation has come to this house, since He also is the Son of Abraham, for the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost. And aren't we grateful that it is the Lord who saves, that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost? That was R.C. Sproul on this Sunday edition of Renewing Our Mind.

As we heard today, Dr. R.C. Sproul has this incredible ability to draw our attention to the text, to help us see the truth there, even if we're familiar with the particular story. This was one sermon out of 113 that he preached through the Gospel of Luke, and those sermons formed the basis of his expositional commentary on Luke, and we're making that available to you today for your gift of any amount. When you give your donation today at, you'll receive digital access to his expositional commentary through Luke's Gospel.

It'll be available for you in your learning library in the free Ligonier app, as well as on your e-reader of choice. So give your gift today at Over the past number of years, there's been a surge of interest in the topic of personal productivity, but does the Bible address this topic? What does it have to say about our role as being productive Christians? Well, I encourage you to join us next Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-14 02:38:03 / 2023-05-14 02:46:46 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime