A Jesus Who is Worth Investing In
Pastor Duane Smets
April 15, 2018
I. The King’s Visit
II. The King’s Value
III. The King’s Virtue
A kindergarten teacher spent a few minutes each morning teaching a new word to her class. She would tell the class the word and its meaning, then ask them to come up with a few sentences that included the word for the day.
One day, the teacher said that the word for the day was “frugal.” She explained that frugal had to do with saving, and a frugal person is one who saves. She then asked the class to come up with a sentence for the word.
The class seemed kind of stumped, and sat there in silence for a few seconds until one little girl raised her hand. Instead of just a sentence, she came up with a little story:
“There once was a princess who was stuck in a tall tower. There was a spell on all of the doors, so she couldn’t get out. One day, she heard a young prince who was walking by and singing. The princess called out of the tower, ‘Frugal me! Frugal me!’ So, the prince saved her and they lived happily ever after.”
This morning we’re continuing in our study through the book of Luke in the Bible with two stories about not just being frugal but investing in Jesus the King who saves. So I’ve titled my sermon “A Jesus Worth Investing In.” Let’s go ahead and stand for the reading of God’s Word.
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 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.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 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.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
So last week in Luke we look at the previous section in Luke where Jesus said it’s harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But He said, “With God all things are possible.”
Today, what comes next in Luke is the story of a rich man who ends up seeing and encountering the goodness and grace of Jesus the King, gets saved and then invests more than half his wealth in Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus follows up that story with His final parable in Luke which talks about three other people who encounter a king but only two believe in Him and invest in His kingdom.
So what I want to walk through today from what we just read in the Bible are three things, “The King’s Visit”, “The King’s Value” and “The King’s Virtue” and the key theme for today or take home line is this, “Investing in the King is the Best Thing!”
I. The King’s Visit
Both the story of Zacchaeus and the story of the servants are about the arrival of the king. Throughout the book of Luke what Jesus has been announcing is the arrival of the Kingdom of God through His healing hands and words as the true and promised king to come.
Just days from the scenes we’re looking at today, Jesus will enter Jerusalem and they will welcome Him as their hopeful king crying out to Him, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” The question throughout our text today is whether or not one really believes Jesus is King and Lord.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and he stops in Jericho. Jericho was about seventeen miles outside of Jerusalem and was one of the major gateway cities where many had to go to pay their taxes and tolls. So it was a rich city.
A crowd is following Jesus, we don’t know how large exactly, easily in the hundred if not thousands at this point. As Jesus is walking down through the streets of Jericho all of the sudden he stops and the whole throng of people stop with him and he looks up into a tree where there is a little man. Jesus looks up at him and says his name, “Zacchaeus! Come on down. I want to go eat and stay at your house today.”
And everyone around is shocked because they know who Zacchaeus is and they think Jesus doesn’t. Zacchaeus is a thief and a crook of the worst kind, a chief tax collector.
We’ve talked about tax collectors before at different points in Luke. They were seen as thugs and gangsters. They collected taxes from the people in person, either showing up at their house or at a tax booth…you couldn’t just send it in by April 17th back then. Reminder, do your taxes.
And part of the prerogative of tax collectors and the way they made their money is they could charge extra if they like on top of what was required to the government. Jews already didn’t like paying taxes to a foreign government ruling over them, one of the reasons they wanted Jesus to be the kind of king who would lead a military revolt against Rome. On top of it, no one like to be cheated and swindled, literally robbed by these tax collectors.
So tax collectors were hated. They were rich because of it, one of the most lucrative ancient jobs. They were known to throw wild parties with lots of wine and women. And this is who Zacchaeus is and he’s chief tax collectors which means he’s at the top of the pyramid, getting a cut of all the other tax collectors, he’s the worst kind of tax collectors, he’s bad…bad bad.
But here’s the funny thing about Zacchaeus though. He’s a little person. Our text says he was “small in stature” which back then meant under five feet tall. So he’s this rich tough dude that’s a little person. If you watch Game of Thrones I imagine in my head Tyrion Lannister, that’s Zacchaeus. And like Tyrion and like what most little people experience they experience being treated differently and end up feeling ostracized and outcast.
He feels doubly hated both for his size and the guilt he likely has because of what he’s done for a job to demand respect. It wouldn’t have been easy for a guy like him to work himself into a job like that. He’s was a mean dude no doubt.
But he’s heard about Jesus. He’s heard how this Jesus guy has compassion on outcasts and crooks. Maybe he heard how Jesus made a tax collector named Matthew one of his disciples. Maybe he heard about how Jesus ministered to and befriended prostitutes. Maybe he heard about how Jesus accepted other outcasts like people with leprosy and blindness, people of different races and colors of skin. Maybe he heard about that and thought maybe Jesus could love and save him too.
He’s curious. He knows he has no chance at seeing Jesus due to his height so he climbs a tree. And just as Jesus is about to walk under or by him, this Jesus stops, speaks his name and says he wants to come to your house! Not only does this Jesus somehow miraculously know his name but coming into one’s home means you accept them and want to be with them.
I imagine at that moment that Zacchaeus was overcome with emotion, with tears of joy. Verse 6 says he, “hurried and come down and received him joyfully.” He received Jesus joyfully.
Everyone around grumbles. The same word used for those who rejected God in the Old Testament, they grumbled about God thinking He had mistreated or wronged them or had abandoned them or didn’t exist. These people grumble and turn on Jesus accusing Jesus of breaking the law. Their law in that day said you were not allowed to eat with tax collectors, it as ceremonial defilement. They say, “I can’t believe it, he’s going to eat with a sinner!”
By that time Zacchaeus has got down the tree and it says he “stood”, likely a pun but also a picture of Zach standing tall and proud and he says these sweet words, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
We’ll talk about how Zach responds to Jesus with his money in our next point, but first look at those two simple yet powerful first two words. He says, “Behold Lord!” Just like the blind man we look at last week, Zacchaeus who likewise was spiritually blind, sees Jesus as the savior and embraces Him as Lord.
It would’ve been unheard of that a holy man like Jesus would stoop down to Zacchaeus’ level. But Jesus did and it changed Zacchaeus forever. He thought he was hopeless, but Jesus restores Him and says salvation is granted to him and he is welcomed into God’s family as a son of Abraham.
Jesus stopped, saw Zacchaeus and by inviting himself over for dinner opened his heart to receive Jesus as Lord and King. You see many were attracted to Jesus for His fanfare. But Zacchaeus was the one who was truly visited by the King.
In the story of the servants Jesus tells, maybe even while at Zach’s house because Luke says in verse 11 the conversation happened all at the same time, in the story of the servants Jesus says there’s a king who came from far away that many hated. The servants didn’t. But even among the servants, there was one who didn’t believe he was really a worthy king who had visited them.
Jesus is the king who came from a far away country, the country of heaven, the question is whether or not we believe in and recognize Him as the Lord and King.
The story today is a riveting story, isn’t it? Perhaps one of the best in in all of Luke. What it invites us into is seeing Jesus like Zacchaeus did and opening ourselves up to a visit from Him. The opportunity is to see Jesus and embrace Him as King and Lord.
In the story Zacchaeus had heard some things about Jesus and was interested, he wanted to see and hear from him so he climbed up a tree to investigate Him.
Maybe you’re here today and you’re not a Christian yet but maybe you’re interested. I want to encourage you to lean into that. Seek Jesus out.
All of us have questions and things that have happened to us that make seeking God out difficult at times. Don’t let those limitations hinder you. Don’t let your height or the mistreatment you’ve experienced or the fear, guilt or shame you may carry keep you from pursuing Jesus.
For all of us, even for those of us who are Christians, we never stop needing to seek out Jesus. What is it you need to do? Is there a tree you need to climb? Is God inviting you today to really seek Him out? I want you to know He’s worth it. Your time and your effort will not go to waste.
Hebrews 11:6 says it this way, “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Investing in the King is the best thing. Jesus is worth investing your time and your heart into. He’s worth it.
Well, let’s move on to our next point, “The King’s Value.” Our next two points deal with Jesus’ favorite two topics, literally the two things he talked about more than anything else, money and hell.
II. The King’s Value
I’ll say this before I begin this point, I hate talking about money in church. I’ve been trying to get more comfortable with it, but I think it’s worth mentioning because it is true that some churches and pastors have used Jesus and the Bible to scam people out of money and I think that’s shameful.
We strive, extremely hard to be a church that is above board when it comes to finances. We take it very seriously when people see fit to partner with us financially as a church. We don’t have an axe to grind when it comes and typically only talk about it much unless it comes up in the passage of the Bible we’re preaching from on a given Sunday.
With that, let’s jump into both how Zacchaeus and the servants respond to Jesus financially.
In response to the goodness and grace of Jesus Zacchaeus commits to give half of his money to the poor and promises to repay four times the amount he stole. That’s huge. If he had been convicted in court sentences of restitution at the time were to pay back the original amount plus one fifth. Zach ends up doing way more than that and on top of it wants to give away half of his money to the work of Jesus’ kingdom.
That would have been a lot of money. Do you know what your net worth is? Can you imagine giving half of it away to Jesus and His work?
Zacchaeus response shows how deep what Jesus did for Him hit him. When we truly experience the love of God it always results in love for others. It’s just the way it works. And we have three resources to give to others, our time, our talent and our treasure.
Zacchaeus was saved. Saved from his own greed, pride, guild, lack of self-work, social exclusion, and from future judgment. He was lost and Jesus came to him and saved him. When we experience the heart and generosity of God it makes us want to partner with Him and the mission of His kingdom.
That mission is to seek and to save the lost. Many have said verse 10 of our text may be the best summary to the entire book of Luke on the purpose of Jesus life and mission on earth. Jesus says he came, “To seek and to save the lost.”
Just like the earlier in the book with the lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost sons and now those who get lost in riches…Jesus came to save us. Because we are lost without him. And that is the mission of Jesus to reach lost people.
The other day my family and I were having dinner and drinks with one of my non-Christian friends named Gabriel and his daughter and we were talking and he asked me how we make money as a church and I told him people simply give money. He’s never been to church and so he asked me this very innocent question and said, “So do you charge people to come?” I said, “No, they just give whatever God has put on their heart and those who are members commit to giving each month.” He said, “That’s incredible, why to they give?” The world thinks people are crazy giving money to church.
I said, “Well, in part from a business perspective I suppose they feel they are receiving something, the worship experience or whatever but more than that most of our people who give give because they believe in our mission to reach lost people. We’re all about Jesus and we believe Jesus cares for lost, broken and hurting people. I’m not kidding you on this, his next response was, “I want to come to your church.” He’s on his second marriage and started telling me how lost and broken he’s felt.
Zacchaeus was lost and broken, experienced the grace and goodness of Jesus and then immediately committed to investing in Jesus’ work. So did two of the servants in the story Jesus told. In the story, many hated the king, but ten did not and gave themselves to him as servants.
Each of the servants were given ten minas, which was the equivalent of about three months wages. Average yearly wage in San Diego is about $60k a year, so that would be about $5000 in today’s money.
One servant is able to multiply that amount by ten, a thousand percent profit, the equivalent of $50,000 and another is able to multiply it by five, a five hundred percent profit, the equivalent of $25,000. To these good servants, the king replies, “Well done, good servant!”
These two servants loved and respected their king and wanted him to be proud and do well with his money, seeing his kingdom multiply. Jesus uses this story, clearly referring to himself as the king encouraging the people around to be the kind of servants to receive him as their king and invest in his mission.
And what the mission? Seeking and saving the lost. That’s why we like to say here that money is simply a means for mission. And we encourage people who are a part of our church to partner with us in that regularly. The more money we have the more we can do.
For example, this last week myself and my three girls were hanging out on Tuesday night for the Mercy Ministry dinner with our homeless friends. One of the guys who just completed our church membership class came up to me and said, “Pastor, I have a great idea! Can we purchase a trailer that has bathrooms and showers in it for the homeless people? Then we could not only provide that here on Tuesday nights but go serve more in people in other parts of town.”
I told him, “Brother, I love that idea. It’s a wonderful idea. But here’s the thing only about 20-30% of our church regularly gives and we’re barely making it month to month right now. The church doesn’t have this stockpile of money to spend. So the best thing you can do is give regularly and encourage others to do the same. The more money we have the more we can do and the more lost people we can reach.”
Now there’s the obvious call to participate in the work of Jesus’ kingdom financially. But it’s not just money right? Like we talked about earlier, we have three resources our time, our talent and our treasure.
Maybe we don’t have money to give but we have time or we have a talent something we can use to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our city. Our mission is to seek and save the lost. How did Jesus do that? By stopping, seeing people and sharing with them the grace and goodness of God.
Do you get too busy with life to stop and pay attention to people?
Do you see people in their brokenness and hurt or do you look down on others as “sinners”?
When was the last time you invited yourself over for dinner to someone’s house or at least had them over? When was the last time you had a meal or a drink with a sinner?
What are you doing with the resources that you have? Are you seeking to multiply them for God’s kingdom? Or are you just hoarding them and sitting on it?
Jesus’ kingdom is truly one worth investing in. It’s an investment that has eternal returns. That makes it better than any financial investment we will ever make on earth. The goal, our goal, the goal of every Christian is to hear those sweet and wonderful words from Jesus when we see Him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”
Investing in the King is always the best thing.
Well, let’s move on to our last point for today.
III. The King’s Virtue
In this last point, we recognize there is another side to Jesus’ goodness, that He’s a just king. He has loads and loads of grace but there is a limit. He will not let obstinate rebellion and wickedness slide.
This final point comes from both the people of the crowd who grumbled at Jesus mercy toward a sinner like Zacchaeus and the third servant who does nothing with what the king entrusts to him and is condemned as a wicked enemy to be slaughtered.
In verse 21, the third servant accuses the king of being an unvirtuous king, he doesn’t believe in him. He says he’s severe and accuses him of theft and mistreatment. So the king says, okay, that’s not true but even by your own logic then you should’ve done something with my money. Walking around with $5,000 dollars in your pocket is stupid, you should’ve at least put it in the bank.
What Jesus points out is that ultimately the wicked servant’s issue was a heart issue. In verse 27 He says, “These enemies of mine…did not want me to reign over them.”
This is what it boils down to. Often when it comes to our money and not just our money but our life…we don’t want someone telling us what to do. We don’t want someone reigning over us. We want to be our own kings and our lords. We want to be in control and the one calling the shots.
But Jesus calls us to let go, to release our grasp and to entrust ourselves to Him. Having eternal treasure and the favor of the king is far better than hoarding earthly goods.
When it comes to our resources, our time, talent and treasure this principle applies: use it or lose it. Use it or lose it. We can either use what God has given us for His purposes or we will ultimately lose not only that but our life.
Zacchaeus’ first response to Jesus was to acknowledge Him as Lord.
In his book, “Money, Possessions and Eternity” Randy Alcorn writes the following,
“Can we put Christ before all, deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him with no apparent effect on what we do with our money and possessions?
The handling of money is a litmus test of our true character. It’s an index of our spiritual life. Our stewardship of our money and possessions becomes the story of our lives.
When Zacchaeus said he would give half his money to the poor and pay back those he had cheated, Jesus did not merely say, “Good idea.” He said, “Today, salvation has come to this house.” This is amazing. Jesus judged the reality of this man’s salvation based on his willingness - no, his cheerful eagerness - to part with his money for the glory of God and the good of others.
Jesus knew that none of us can enthrone the true God unless in the process we dethrone our other gods. If Christ is not Lord over our money and possessions, then he is not our Lord.
There is a powerful relationship between our true spiritual condition and our attitude and actions concerning money and possessions. True riches are those that are valuable to God that will last for all eternity.”
So how does all this hit home? Kind of heavy on one hand, kind of exciting on the other. By acknowledging Jesus as King and Lord and God of our lives by devoting our time, talent and treasure we get to take part in something that lasts for eternity. And we will see that. Often times it doesn’t look like it now but in the end we will see.
The story is told of two men who owned farms side by side, one an atheist, the other a devout Christian. Constantly annoyed at the Christian for his trust in God, the atheist said to him one winter, “Let’s plant our crops, as usual, this spring, each the same number of acres. You pray to your God, and I’ll curse him. Then come October, let’s see who has the bigger crop.”
When October came the atheist was delighted because his crop was larger. “See, you fool,” he taunted, “what do you have to say for your God now?” “My God,” replied the other farmer, “doesn’t settle all his accounts in October.”
So in light of all this, how are you using what God has given you for the work of His kingdom?
How are you giving your time?
How are you giving your talent?
How are you giving you treasure?
If you have been giving are you giving joyfully with a vision of hearing those precious words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”?
May God help us to be like Zacchaeus and the faithful servants, sinners who recognize and experience the goodness of our King and devote our life to Him.
Investing in the King is truly the best thing.
Well, I started out this morning talking about the Kindergarten teacher’s word of the day “frugal” meaning save and the little girl’s story of the prince who climbed the tower to frugal the princess.
We end today looking at Jesus who didn’t climb up a tower or up a tree but climbed up a hill called Calvary as a sinner to give His life on the cross for all of us. The reason Jesus did that is so that we would see what really matters.
Jesus was and is the king from a far away country who came to earth for us to give his life on the cross so that all of us lost could be welcomed into his family and receive the rich rewards of His kingdom.
You see the truth is none of us has been perfect with our time, talent, and treasure. We’ve all failed wasting time, wasting our gifts and wasting our money. We’ve all tried to be the king and queens of our own lives and failed.
Jesus came and wasted nothing. He invested everything He had for us. He gave his time, his gifts and all his riches so that we might be found in Him. We’re all outcasts and sinners like Zacchaeus. We’ve all been stupid like the wicked servant. And Jesus came as the good King to give His life for us so we might see His grace, His goodness and then give all our allegiance to Him.
When we experience His love we can help but spread and extend that love to others.