Sunday, April 29, 2007

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON 10 November 12, 2006

Jesus Calls Zacchaeus and Matthew
Theme: Good News to Share
Theme Verse: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10b NIV
Readings: Luke 19:1-10, Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17
Memory Verse: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10

      Context in Luke: Jesus was headed for Jerusalem where he would be killed and rise on the third day. The disciples don't get it. Jesus goes by way of Jericho in the Jordan river valley. As he passes by he heals a blind man who cried out to him as he passed by. Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector learns Jesus is passing by and wants to see him. (Jericho was on a main trade route and an important customs center.) As chief tax collector he had contracted for the right to collect revenues from lesser tax collectors in the district. His neighbors despised him for sharing in the rule of the foreign Romans.

      NIV note on Mark 2:16, Jewish tax collectors were regarded as outcastes. They could not serve as witnesses or as judges and were expelled from the synagogues. In the eyes of the Jewish community their disgrace extended to their families. They were known as "publicans". They had a bad reputation both because they worked for the hated Roman conquerors as contractors but also because they often demanded unreasonable payments. (See Luke 3:12-14 where John the Baptist tells them "collect no more than is appointed you".)

      There were two reasons why people would have scorned and laughed at Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector and he was short. Word received: I don't care what you look like. I love you. I have come that you might have life and have it to the full. I want you to come to Me. Don't be afraid. Word received: I AM not a respecter of persons. I love anyone and everyone who comes to Me. Jesus rescues people that others despise, reject, exclude.

      Reread the Memory Verse. "For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost." Word received: I AM the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd seeks every lamb that has wandered off.

      The blind man in Jericho cried out to Jesus. Zacchaeus cried out by his actions. He is a rich, chief tax collector but he runs ahead so he could see Jesus and he climbed a sycamore tree so he could see clearly! (Imagine the mayor of Schenectady climbing a tree!) (Note the little touch by someone who was there. It was a sycamore tree.) There is a spiritual hunger here. Word received: I want you to seek Me as Zacchaeus did. He was not stopped by being small. Word received: Come to Me all you who are burdened and I will refresh you. He was burdened by sin and by his work. He came to Me and I lifted the burden off of him.

      When Jesus got to that place he looked up and called Zacchaeus by name! Jesus knows your name! Jesus told him to "make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." Word received: I AM the Good Shepherd! I called My sheep Zacchaeus to Me. If I call you, will you come? (Notice how Jesus so often went to people to teach them, to their homes, to the temple and synagogues, streets and lakesides, to draw them into his kingdom. He doesn't wait for everyone to come to him.) So Zacchaeus came down "with haste" and received Jesus joyfully. Word received: Zacchaeus is like my other disciples -- he came immediately. I want you to come with haste when I call you.

      Many in the crowd "murmured" when they saw Jesus go to Zacchaeus' house. Word received: Don't complain when I receive a sinner, rather rejoice. The Pharisees were scandalized because their goal was to keep themselves "pure" by not having any contact with "sinners" and tax collectors like Zacchaeus and Matthew. Jesus sought them out and called them. Jesus answer is, "The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost."

      The Pharisees responded the same way when Jesus called Matthew and went to a feast for tax collectors at Matthew's house. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy not sacrifice' for I have not come to call the righteous but sinners."

      1. We should rejoice with the angels in heaven whenever a lost sinner turns to Jesus.

      2. "Sacrifice" can refer to those external offerings to God that may or may not go along with a repentant, contrite heart. God. looks for the repentant heart and the actions, like mercy, that flow from it -- not just the externals of worship and the law.

      3. Many Pharisees were self-righteous, right in their own eyes, who could not see themselves as sinners and so could not receive God's forgiveness and see their need of God's mercy. So they missed God's purpose for themselves when they didn't see their own condition. (Luke 7:30) PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you came to save sinners, for without you, we would have no one.

      Zacchaeus' response is shown by a total change in behavior. Note that the Old Testament rule for someone who stole something was to "pay double" (Exodus 22:1,4,7) "And he shall make restitution for the harm that he has done ... and shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest." (Leviticus 5:16) Zacchaeus was being very honest and generous and promised to restore four-fold! He vows to give half of his goods to the poor. He has had a complete change of heart!

      Jesus rejoices and says that "today salvation has come to this house." Remember what Jesus said about how heaven rejoices over the one lost sinner who was found! Word received: I told the thief on the cross that he would be with me in paradise. I told Zacchaeus that salvation had come to his house. Listen for my words of assurance to you.

      "Today" In Luke 19 there is emphasis on "today" and "immediately". The other passages indicate an immediate response to Jesus' call to "Follow me." There is an urgency to the message we have to share. What is your response when you have tested the message and are sure that Jesus is asking you to do something? Word received: Today I Am calling sinners to follow me. Every day this world calls today is today to me. Today I Am harvesting the fruits of my laborers who reach out in my name. Today is the day of salvation.

      Read the two versions of Matthew's (Levi's) call to follow Jesus as his disciple. What a surprise that must have been to Matthew! He was so used to rejection. The location is the town where Jesus lived -- Capernaum. (Matthew 4:1) Their reaction is similar. Matthew (Levi) got up at once, and followed Jesus. Then he invites all his friends and co-workers to a feast to meet Jesus. The main difference between Zacchaeus and Matthew was the Matthew was called to be one of "the twelve" apostles. Word received: Look at how Matthew obeyed my call. I want you to obey when I call you.

      Jesus calls us to be his disciples -- to follow him, to live with him daily, to have his mind and heart about the people around us. He wants us to keep turning to him for guidance about who to speak to and what to say. We only see the outside of people. We don't know what is under the surface -- but the Lord Jesus does and the Holy Spirit can guide us if we ask.

      Note on "I desire mercy not sacrifice." (Hosea 6:6) The rest of the quote is "and acknowledgment of God rather than burn offerings" Hosea was a prophet who was asked by God to marry an adulterous wife and children by her (!) to symbolize the spiritual adultery of Israel. They were doing the external religious rituals and sacrifices but in their hearts and behavior they had turned their backs on God and his will. Hosea 11:7 says, "My people are determined to turn from me." The Pharisees were doing the letter of the law in rituals but the obedience that goes with faith and the internal side of faith was not there. God wants our hearts turned to him to love and obey him -- and love others as he does.

Teaching Ideas for Lesson 10
      Please read the Study Guide first. Go over Memory Verse to make sure the children understand it and then if they have memorized it.

      Remind them their parents need to sign a report slip monthly if they have read the lessons, so they will get credit at the end of the year.

      Make sure they know what happened in the story. Get them to tell you.

Basic points of the lesson for little ones:

1.Jesus loves you and he loves everyone.

2. Jesus wants everyone to receive His love and salvation.

3. Jesus changed Zacchaeus' life. Jesus wants to change our lives too.

4. Zacchaeus obeyed Jesus immediately. That's what Jesus wants us to do too.

5. Jesus wants us to come to him so he can lift our burdens and give us his new life. Will you come?

No comments: