A Little Man with a Big Problem
A periscope (see below sermon for instructions to make your own)
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. Luke 19:10 (NIV)
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Have you ever been to a parade where you couldn’t see over the person in front of you? It isn't much fun to go to a parade if you can't see the marching bands, the floats, or the fire trucks with their flashing lights, is it? When that happens, a periscope may be just what you need. The periscope has two mirrors in it so that you can look in the bottom and see out the top. It allows you to see over tall objects or even around a corner. Periscopes are used in submarines so that the people in the submarine can see what is happening above the water. I have seen people using these at parades and at sports events where they may have difficulty seeing above the crowd.
Today’s Bible story is about a man who went to a parade, but couldn't see above the crowd. The main attraction in this parade was Jesus. He had become quite famous because he had performed many miracles. He had raised Lazarus from the dead and had restored sight to a blind man named Bartimaus, so when he entered the city of Jericho, the atmosphere was very much like a circus parade. People lined the streets hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus. One of the people in the crowd was a man who was very short. He was so short that he couldn’t see above all the people in the crowd. You probably know this man's name, don't you? That's right, it was Zacchaeus. He didn't have a periscope to help him see above the crowd, but he really wanted to see Jesus, so he climbed a tree and waited for Jesus to pass by.
As Jesus traveled through the streets of Jericho, he came to the place where Zacchaeus sat up in the tree. Jesus stopped, looked up in the tree, and he said, "Zacchaeus, you come down, for I am going to your house today."
The people in the crowd were shocked! You see, Zacchaeus was one of the most hated men in all of Jericho. Why did the people hate him? Because Zacchaeus was a little man with a great big problem! He was a thief and a cheat! He was the chief tax collector and he had become very rich because he cheated people by collecting more taxes than they owed and keeping it for himself. The people could not believe that Jesus would go to the home of a man like that!
Zacchaeus knew that he had cheated people and when he and Jesus arrived at his house, he confessed and said that he was sorry for what he had done. He said to Jesus, "I am going to give half of all that I own to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
Because Zacchaeus was sorry for what he had done and confessed his sin, Jesus forgave him and said, "Today salvation has come to this house." Yes, Zacchaeus was a little man with a big problem -- sin! But he met Jesus and his life was changed. It doesn't matter if you are short or tall, when you meet Jesus, he will change your life too.
Our Father, when we meet Jesus it is a life-changing experience. Thank you for your love and forgiveness. Amen.