Brookwood Church - Love God, Love People

A Chance Encounter



A Chance Encounter

J.C. Thompson |

This week, we'll study the story of Zacchaeus and discuss how A CHANCE ENCOUNTER with Christ alters a man's life forever.








A Chance Encounter
Encounters With Christ – Message 1
J.C. Thompson
July 4, 2021


  • Theme Verse: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10 (NLT)
  • Memory Verse: Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 (ESV)

1. Introduction

  1. Welcome to our new series entitled Encounters with Christ. We will be teaching this series throughout the summer.
  2. Josh and I thought it would be good during the summer to point to moments in Scripture where people had an encounter with Christ and were changed.
  3. This series is particularly poignant with all of the noise that is happening in our world.
  4. If you have your eyes on the media, either traditional or digital, you might be even more concerned about our world forever and be thinking to yourself, am I in some sort of Twilight Zone?
  5. Today I want to remind us that Jesus entered into this world. And in the midst of the crazy, God is still moving, active, and working out His plan.
  6. What’s His plan you might ask?
  7. That’s our theme verse for today and it is the end of our text today. So let’s read our text and then focus on our theme.
  8. We’ll be in Luke 19:1-10 (NLT).
  9. Jesus entered Jericho and made His way through the town.2There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich.3He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd.4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
    5When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name.“Zacchaeus!”He said.“Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
    6Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.7But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.
    8Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”
    9Jesus responded,“Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.
    And lastly, our theme verse,
    10For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
  10. This is why Jesus came. Jesus came for you.
  11. Whether you are someone committed in relationship with Christ or not, we all want to have an encounter with Jesus.
  12. But having an encounter with Christ

An Encounter with Christ involves…

Confronting obstacles. (Luke 19:1-2; C/R: Matt. 19:24)

  1. Luke 19:1-2 (NLT) - Jesus entered Jericho and made His way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich.
  2. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, He had set His eyes there as the place of His crucifixion, and Jericho was on the way.
  3. Image: Map of Jericho
  4. Jericho was an oasis situated in the Jordan Valley. It was far below sea level and had very warm winters.
  5. Because of this, Herod built large palaces there for rest and relaxation, the palaces had bathhouses, pools, steam rooms and more. Also, it was close enough to Jerusalem, that King Herod could manage affairs from there.
  6. It had very fertile soil and was fed by natural springs, so many expensive and rare plants were grown there.[1]
  7. Jericho was a place that had money.
  8. Zacchaeus was a “Chief” tax collector. This is the only time this phrase occurs in the New Testament. It means that he was the leader of the tax collectors.
  9. Now you may know that tax collectors were despised by the Jews.
  10. They represented a foreign government that was exerting power and domination over them and one of the main ways to do that was through taxation.
  11. But in addition to that these tax collectors had a quota and in order to meet these requirements they would have to take advantage of people.
  12. So, Zacchaeus not only represented tax collectors, but he also was the one in charge of the tax collectors. He would have been EXTRA despised.
  13. The Bible articulates that Zacchaeus got his money by exploiting people.
  14. Did the Bible say he was rich? Actually, it said he was “very rich”
  15. Anyone know what the Bible says about a rich man having an encounter with God? Entering heaven?
  16. Matthew 19:24 (NLT)“... it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
    Zacchaeus’ position of influence, his material wealth, and his history of
  17. exploitation would have all been obstacles in the way of Him meeting Christ.
  18. It is the same for many of us, we have some money, we’ve got some time.
  19. Now apart from the discussion about how busy we are as a society, which there are plenty of arguments to be made, here are some stats on social media usage.
  20. According to Pew Research, 49% of Adult Americans use Facebook several times a day, 45% Snapchat, 38% Instagram, 36%Youtube, and 30% Twitter[2]
  21. According to the LA Times, during the pandemic, adults were streaming on average 8 hours of content every day. That was nearly double before the pandemic.[3]
  22. I think we do have the time, but how we use that time, money, gifts, talents, etc. Are we placing ourselves in a position to encounter Christ?
    Do we isolate from others or step towards others in relationship? Not just in Bible study, but at grocery stores, your kids' schools, or your job?
  23. APP: What obstacles are keeping you from experiencing Christ? Are you aware of them? Do you have a pathway of confronting these obstacles?
  24. Transition: Not only do we have to wrestle with the obstacles within us, but we also must resist opposition from others.

Resisting opposition. (Luke 19:3; C/R: Rom. 12:19-21, 2 Cor. 4:4)

  1. Likewise, Zacchaeus also encountered opposition. Verse 3 in Luke 19
  2. Luke 19:3 (NLT) - He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd.
  3. Zacchaeus’ height kept him from seeing over the crowd, but the crowd was not helping Zacchaeus in any way.
  4. You have to remember that this crowd, that also wanted to see Jesus, was also exploited by this man.
  5. As he tries to elbow his way through the crowd in order to get in front, what do you think this crowd did with Zacchaeus?
  6. Zacchaeus had to get around the crowd in order to see Jesus. So, he found a sycamore tree.
  7. Now this tree is a representative of the tree that Zacchaeus may have climbed, but is not the exact tree.
  8. But how many older men do you know willing to climb a tree for any reason? How about one of the richest men in town?
  9. But something about the person of Christ compels Zacchaeus to get a look.
  10. Paul speaks about the opposition from Satan himself when the Gospel is preached in 2 Corinthians 4
  11. Slide - 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) - Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
  12. Illustration. I want to give a couple examples in my own life recently.
  13. There have been quite a few things happening in my life recently, with four boys at home, I’m in school, and work ramping up during the summer.
  14. Usually, I try and hit the gym late afternoon. It works best with my schedule. But lately, that time gets pulled on with other responsibilities, meetings, etc.
  15. Earlier this week, needed to get to the gym. Now the physical part is important, but I get to spend time in God’s Word at the gym, listen to podcasts, and get some time to myself at the gym.
  16. So early enough for the kids to not be up and disrupt the day I get ready to roll out, ready for this new opportunity in the morning.
  17. As I walk past the stairs, about to walk out the door, my oldest son yells down from the stairs, “MOM!” He had an upset stomach. Not his fault, but the timing is interesting.
  18. A couple weeks before that had a big meeting at work the next day. I was thinking about this message the day before and the interruptions we experience. Go to sleep. After a couple of hours my electric toothbrush turns on, falls into the sink, making the loudest buzzing noise you could imagine.
  19. What do we do when these things happen to us? Complain, woe is me?
  20. Or do we take a moment to refocus and reorient ourselves to the presence of God in our lives and remember that the enemy wants to impede our relationships with God and with others?
  21. Transition: After we deal with our own obstacles and resist opposition from others, we also must Capitalize on the opportunity

3. Seizing opportunities. (Luke 19:4-10; C/R: James 4:8)

  1. Luke 19:4-10 (NLT) - 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” He said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” 6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. 8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” 9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
  2. Jesus invited Himself to the house of Zacchaeus.
  3. Jesus initiates. Zacchaeus responds.
  4. Now remember, Zacchaeus was very rich, and this was Jericho, a rich place. So, Jesus most likely would have been going into one of the fanciest places in all of Jericho.
  5. We do not get a picture of what Jesus said to Zacchaeus.
  6. I think Luke intentionally left that out because the person of Christ is what matters. Not just His words, but also Him.
  7. Zacchaeus also gives us a picture of confession and repentance. Zacchaeus does two things: he gives half of his wealth to the poor. Confessing his lack of generosity with great wealth. 
  8. Zacchaeus also confesses that he has cheated people and agrees to pay it back fourfold.
  9. These two confessions should cause us to reflect on how we view our own sins. Zacchaeus, encountering Christ, is not only aware of those he cheated, as obvious as that might sound to some, but also that God has given him great wealth and as such, he should give to the poor.
  10. God’s Spirit will move us to repair relationships. When the Spirit nudges, respond to His leading.
  11. Confession is an ongoing part of being a believer in Christ, not just something we complete once we become a disciple of Jesus.
  12. When we encounter Christ, we want to make things right with others, just as Jesus makes things right with us.
  13. Zacchaeus represented the foreign government that was taking money from them. Zacchaeus represented oppression. We are not always happy if the people who hurt us truly change.
  14. Zacchaeus truly came to Christ. He made an effort, he found a way past being short and past the crowd that he had harmed, to see Jesus, but really Jesus saw him.
  15. This is why I think the series that Josh and I have prepared is so important for us today. We need an encounter with Christ.
  16. Jesus told us who He came to have encounters with at the end of this story.
  17. Luke 19:10 (NLT)For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost.
  18. Jesus makes it abundantly clear who He came for.
  19. Today, if you are here and are hoping to find Jesus, newly aware of your sin, confess your sins, forsake them and come to Christ.
  20. If you have been lax in your devotion to Christ, confess it, forsake your laxity, and come to Christ.
  21. Receive this promise. Draw near to God, and He will come near to you. James 4:8 (ESV)
  22. Don’t allow today to pass without making every effort to see Jesus. Come to Him.
  23. CARE VOLUNTEERS WILL BE DOWN FRONT TO PRAY WITH YOU.
  24. Let’s pray


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