Jack Graham - He Knows My Name
This is our series His Story, Your Story. And you can begin making your way to the nineteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke chapter 19. Our prayer, our purpose in this series of messages, "His Story, Your Story" are to meet the people who met Jesus, whose lives were transformed, no more, no longer the same by the power of Jesus Christ. We want to know more and more about Him, who He is and what He is like. So this is a Gospel centered series. But it's also about you and me. That the story of Jesus would become our story; that we would share in the life of Jesus Christ. So we are meeting one by one people who encountered Christ. Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night. A Samaritan woman who met Jesus at a well and her life was changed. To a demonanic, a man possessed of a legion of demons, who was delivered and saved.
And today a well known story about a man named Zacchaeus. I've been knowing this story for really all my life, since I can remember because it's a Sunday school story, for those who grew up in church or in Sunday school. It is the story about a little song, a little jingle we used to sing. "Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. And as the Savior passed that way He looked up in the tree, and he said: Zacchaeus, you come down, for I'm going to your house today". We can just clap along the way and sing that song and it's a happy song, and, of course, it's a fun story to be thinking about this little man. If we were casting Zacchaeus in a movie it would be Danny Devito for sure who would play Zacchaeus, the little man who climbed up in a tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus who was passing by.
The author Luke of the Gospel gives us a great summary of what happened in the first ten verses of Luke 19: "He entered Jericho", that is Jesus, "entered Jericho and was passing through". And let me say Jesus is passing through today! He's "the same yesterday, today and forever". And He's in this place; He's passing through. Those of you who are watching online right now or on television: Jesus is passing by where you are. He is alive and He's present today. So Jesus is passing through: "And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus". His parents named him Zacchaeus, or Zack. We have a grandson whose name Zachary or Zack, akin to this name Zacchaeus. So Zack, it means pure one or righteous one. But he was anything but pure and righteous because the Scripture says he was a chief tax collector, and it's noted that he was rich.
Now tax collectors had a terrible reputation, close to what we would surmise to be a crack dealer in our time. Someone said that Zacchaeus was a half-pint, kingpin of the Jericho tax machine. He was a kind of a godfather, chief tax collector of the extortionists, the scam artist that the Jewish people knew as tax collectors, because they were skimming and scamming off the top, off the backs of the people for the Romans. And so Zacchaeus was a despised individual, and he had earned his reputation, no doubt. And so he was rich. But verse 3 says: "He was seeking to see who Jesus was (just a glimpse) but on account of the crowd he could not", can you see it? The crowd elbowing the little guy in the face. "Get back, Zacchaeus"! "Not here, Zacchaeus! Not on my space, Zacchaeus". He can't see over the crowd. So what did he do? "He ran ahead", verse 4, "and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way"!
The moment was coming! And Zacchaeus knew that it wouldn't last for long. He just had to see Jesus! Who He was and what He was about. The reputation of Jesus was well known by this time. Virtually everyone in Israel knew about Jesus. "The promised Messiah," some said. And Jesus preformed miracles and called disciples and spoke words like no one had every heard. And the common people heard Him gladly. So Zacchaeus, along with the citizens of Jericho, which was no small town, it was a resort type area, known for its palm trees and its beautiful fragrances. Jericho actually means perfume and so it was a beautiful place with many citizens. Zacchaeus is the chief tax collector of this town so he probably had the biggest house in town. He's living in luxury, and yet he's little, he's lonely, he's lost. And Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.
So he pulls up his little robe, his little skirt, and can't you see his little hairy legs running, running, running ahead of the crowd? And he shinnies up this sycamore tree, gets out on a limb and is looking for Jesus just to see Him pass by. Verse 5: "And when Jesus came to that 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". I wonder how long it had been since Zacchaeus had smiled like this. No stack of money had ever made him this happy. He's smiling from ear to ear! Jesus had invited Himself to his house, so he received Him joyfully. Verse 7. The religious snobs, of course, "When they saw it, they all grumbled. (The crowd was saying what?) 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.'"
One of the reasons that Zacchaeus may have known of Jesus was because of Matthew, also a tax collector, who at the first of our Lord's ministry on earth heard the call of Christ and left his tax collecting job, and followed Jesus. He said, "Here am I, Lord. You can have it all". And he began to follow Jesus. So much so that while Jesus was there at his hometown he said, "Jesus, I've got some tax collector friends. It's a bad crowd, but would You come over to my house and talk to my friends about how they can know You, how they can know God, and to do in them what you've done for me"? And Jesus went to the party and He was accused of hanging out with bad people, tax collectors and wine bibbers and drunkards and the like. Was it Matthew's testimony that somehow influenced this man Zacchaeus to pay attention, to want to see Jesus? Well, it happened. Jesus the friend of sinners.
Aren't you glad that Jesus is a friend of sinners, because we all are in that group. "For all have sinned and come short". We're all little in the eyes of God! We have sinned and broken God's commandment. And so he wants to see Jesus. He runs to see Jesus. He climbs this tree. He went up that tree lost; he came down that tree found! He went up that tree a great sinner; he came down that tree trusting in a great Savior! He went up lost; he came down saved! Because Jesus said, "Today", look at itm "Today salvation", verse 9, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham". This is a Jewish man who is now receiving the Messiah Jesus in his life; now a true son of Abraham. What a story! This sinner who is saved by the power and the presence of the Savior because the mercy in Jesus is greater than the sin in you and me.
Zacchaeus, the wee little man, the wicked man whose life is forever changed. Like yours and mine when we follow Jesus. Doesn't matter how wealthy or successful you are. Jesus came for the down and out, He also came for the up and out. Every person like Zacchaeus is lonely and lost. Every person is guilty of sin and needs a Savior. We can try to cover our sins, but only Jesus by His blood can cleanse our sin. And the guilt is always going to be there until we meet God's grace in the person of Christ. Jesus died on the cross, and His blood covers our sin, and gets us through and over our guilt and our regrets, and we can know redemption and restoration in Christ. Every person is empty; every person is lonely. That's why there's this kind of cosmic loneliness that exists in so many people. You can be at the mall, you can be in your home, you can be at a party, you can be at church, and yet, there's this sense of being all alone and afraid.
And then there's that fear of death. Every person, regardless of the bravado that some express, every person is afraid to die. There's a bondage, the Bible says, to death. Jesus defeated the power of death. But until you meet Jesus, the resurrection, you live in this bondage that you're facing death and an eternity without God. "Is there an afterlife"? "And where will I be in the afterlife"? "Is there a heaven? Is there a hell"? People are afraid to die! All people! Just like Nicodemus you need a Savior. And this man who was so successful in his own eyes, he had a lot of money, he lived in luxury, but he was lost. And the scripture says in verse 10 of Luke 19 that "Jesus came to seek and to save the lost". That is the mission statement of Jesus. Luke 19:10. The Son of Man, Son of God, Jesus came!
Why did God leave heaven to come to this earth? To seek and to save the lost! He was on a mission of love. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son". The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world! That's the mission of Jesus Christ! And therefore, it is the mission of His church! It's the mission of the Christian! His mission, His passion is our mission, our passion! To seek to save the lost! What does it mean to be lost? It's not to be misplaced. We lose things often. I lose my keys or my cell phone, and we lose it, we misplace it. But that's not what the word here "lost" is really talking about. Lost is the idea of not fulfilling a purpose. It is when something loses its meaning or its value or its purpose. Its purpose is lost; its value is lost. I have in dresser drawers and drawers in my study, I have all kinds of technological stuff, wires and plugin stuff. I don't even know what it's there for anymore. I don't know what it plugs into. You know, it has no purpose. Or maybe you have a pen that won't work. You know, ugh! It won't work! It's lost, it's not fulfilling its purpose.
I've got in my dresser drawer, I've got single socks, one! Because I keep thinking that the other one's going show up! But what use is a single sock? (Where do they go by the way? I don't know.) But a single sock, it has no purpose. Well, that's the idea. When a human life is lost, when a person is lost it means you have no purpose, there's no fulfillment, there's no being what God intended for you be and to do for Him. You're just lost! Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. And to be lost means you are, therefore, lost to God, and you are lost really to people, and you are lost forever apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ. That's what hell is. It is eternal lostness, and separation from God! Every person without Jesus Christ is lost! That is the cry of the damned in hell! Lost!! Lost!! Forever lost. But Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. That's our mission.
So what do we see in this story? It's the title of the message: "God Knows Your Name". Jesus knows your name. When Zacchaeus is up in that tree, maybe kind of hiding behind a branch or a limb, he's out on a limb without Him. And Jesus stops and looks up and locks eyes with Zacchaeus, He then calls his name, "Zacchaeus"! I cannot help but believe that a beautiful smile creased the face of our blessed Lord, "Zacchaeus"! He called his name! And in this, think about it, we see God's grace. Here was a man whose name meant pure, righteous, just. He was anything but until Jesus came along and called him by name. He didn't say, "Hey, you"! or "Hey, bad guy in the tree"! or "Short stuff, come out of the tree". "Zacchaeus"! Righteous one. When Jesus calls your name and calls you to Himself, He calls you by what you can be, righteous in Him. We are not righteous in ourselves, but we are righteous in Him. He makes us what we aren't!
Our identity is now secure in Christ. Call me anything. Zacchaeus had been called a lot of names. When he passed by it wasn't "Mr. Zacchaeus", it was bleeping Zacchaeus going by. But now he's called in love to Christ, He calls his name. And he's calling your name today. You're not a number, you're not a nameless face in the crowd, you're someone that Jesus knows. He knows your name, He knows your need, He loves you and He's calling your name today! Jesus calls our name, and Jesus also welcomes us as friends. As far as we know this is the only time this happened exactly like this in the Bible, when Jesus invited Himself over to someone else's house. He said, "Zacchaeus, hurry down, come right now because I must come to your house today". There's that word again: must. When he said to Nicodemus, "You must be (what?) born again".
When it is said when he was chasing down the heart and the soul of that woman in Samaria, "He must go through Samaria". There's this missionary must in the heart of God! "I must"! And He says now, "I must come to your house today"! And He welcomed him as a friend, as He welcomes you as a friend. I preached my first sermon when I was 15 years of age. And, I had actually preached one before as like a 10 minute deal, but this was a real sermon, what am I going to preach for my first sermon? I found these notes the other day in a box of my first sermon, hand written and it was on the text from John chapter 15 and verse 15. Here it is: "No longer do I call you servants, but I have called you My friends".
It was always mind-blowing to me as a kid, to this day as well, that God would call me His friend! That I could be a friend of God! That Jesus would welcome me. That's why we're always saying Christianity is not a religion; it's a relationship. It is a friendship, it's fellowship with God! Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, I'm coming to your house today. And, oh by the way, I'm bringing my buddies. There are thirteen of us in all, and we're coming for dinner"! Jesus said, "I stand at the door and knock, and if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in". The book of Ephesians tells us that Christ is at home in our heart. You know what home is. It's where you're comfortable, it's where you're with family, with friends. Home is home. Heaven is described as not a distant star in the galaxies, but a home, the Father's house. And home is where we are welcomed and accepted, and Christ is invited into our home.
We are "accepted in the beloved", says the Scripture, "accepted in the beloved". This man Zacchaeus, like all of us, rejected, now accepted. "I'm coming to your house! I'm going to abide with you. I'm going to stay you! We're going to hang out together for the rest of your life! And then we're going home together in heaven". This story teaches us that great truth that Jesus knows your name and He welcomes you, invites Himself and welcomes you into your life. One final thing. Not only does He know your name and He welcomes you as a friend, but He changes your life. Zacchaeus was changed just like that!
Jesus said it in verse 9, "Today salvation has come to this house"! And you know, I believe not only was Zacchaeus saved, his whole household came to Christ! Who knows, they might have planted a church there in Jericho as followers of Jesus! But we know that Zacchaeus was saved by the presence of Jesus Christ now in His life. It says "he received Him gladly, joyfully". The greatest day of your life is when you come to Jesus! The best day of your life is the day you say, "Yes, Lord Jesus, come to my home, come to my life". And then it says he got up, and he stood up. He must have been on his knees in worship of the Lord. For he stands up, having surrendered his life to the Lord. He stands up and he said half of everything I own, I'm going to give it to the poor, to hurting people, and those I have defrauded, "If I have cheated, defrauded, stolen from anyone, I'm going to pay back fourfold".
This little guy who had a little heart, now got a huge heart, a big heart for God, for giving. He's no longer greedy, keeping his stuff. He's saying, "Lord, here I am. You can it all. It all belongs to you". When we are saved, we're surrendered to the lordship of Christ! He is our Master! Everything we are, everything we have belongs to Him! You say, "Lord, I surrender all! All to Jesus I surrender"! That's salvation. He wasn't buying off or paying out in salvation. Salvation's by grace. But he is demonstrating the great work of grace and salvation in his life. He's saying, "Lord, I want to now live my life for others, not just myself". And that's where true happiness is found, loving God and loving people. And so he changed his life. This little man is now living large because Christ has changed him. And He will change you. He's calling your name. He died on the cross for you. This was the last personal encounter between Jesus and another person recorded in the Bible before the cross.
We've been talking about these conversions and conversations Jesus had with individuals. This is the end of the story, almost, on earth. He's on His way. Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the last time to lay down His life, sacrificed for our sins, but on His way He had enough time to stop for one little guy who needed to be saved. And Jesus of Nazareth, now risen from the dead, is passing this way today, and He's calling your name. If you don't know Him, if you're lost, lonely, if you're the least, the last. Some people think that guy would be the last person who would ever follow Jesus. If you're the least, you're the last, you're the lost, you're the lonely, He's calling your name.