Sunday, December 12, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Why Did Jesus Come?"

“Why Did Jesus Come?”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
December 12, 2010
Luke 18:35-19:10

We’ve almost reached that part of the Gospel of Luke where Jesus enters Jerusalem.  This message and next message and then Jesus will enter Jerusalem and begin what we call Passion Week or Holy Week, the week that Jesus suffered and died.

Last week, we read verses 31-34 where Jesus predicted all that would happen to Him. It was no surprise.  In fact, it was of His own choice.  V.31

“Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.  He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.  On the third day he will rise again.’ The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.”

But we do.  We know what He’s talking about.

And it’s all about to unravel.

But before He enters Jerusalem, He has two encounters near and in Jericho, the rebuilt city.

One encounter is with a very poor man. 
The other encounter is with a very rich man.

One poor man, one rich man.

Remember that rhyme?

“Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief?”

That’s exactly what these two men were.

A rich man who was a thief.
And a poor man who was a beggar.

And they both needed the exact same thing–Jesus.

Christmas is now less than 2 weeks away.

Are you ready?

Is anyone ever really ready for Christmas?

One of the most important things to do to get our hearts ready for Christmas is to remind ourselves of why there is a thing called Christmas.

In a word: “Why Did Jesus Come?”

Christmas is that celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  His first advent.

And we all know (or at least we should) that advent means.......coming.

Why Did Jesus Come?

What motivated Jesus’ first advent?

Why the announcement to Mary, the announcement to Joseph, the tough trip to Bethlehem, no room in the inn, giving birth “out back,” the angels, the shepherds.

Why all that?

Why Did Jesus Come?

Well, today’s passage tells us very clearly.

And it is illustrated by these encounters with these two men.

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.

Let’s start with the beggar man.  Chapter 18, verse 35.

“As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.  They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’  He called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” Let’s stop there for a second.

Now, I can hardly imagine what it would be like to be totally blind.

This man was blind.  He could not see.

And his only means of living was by begging.  Can you imagine?

Sitting by the roadside begging.

And he hears a commotion.  Somebody important is coming by.  Who is it?

And the crowd says, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

They emphasize Nazareth.  “Nowheresville.  Can anything good come from there?

Yeah, there’s a lot of interest in this guy, but is he really somebody?”

But this blind man could see with the eyes of his heart!

He has heard about Jesus, and he believes in Jesus.

What does he call him?  Not Jesus of Nazareth, but “Jesus, Son of David.”

He’s calling Him the king!  He’s calling him the Son of the Annointed King.

He’s calling him the Messiah.

He could see some things very clearly!

And he asks for something very clearly.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

He asks for mercy.

The crowd doesn’t like it.  V.39.  “Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

“Shut up, blind man.”

No way.  “He shouted all the more. ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

And cry for mercy from someone who believes always gets Jesus’ attention.  V.40

“Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied.  Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.”


This is the last overt miracle in the gospel until the Resurrection.

And it’s an important one.

On the way to Jerusalem, this nobody blind beggar recognizes Jesus for who He is, and he asks for mercy and gets it.  And the blind can see!

Wow!  Praise God!

Why did Jesus come?


The biblical word for that is mercy.

Help for the helpless.  Mercy.

Jesus came to help those who cannot help themselves if they will only recognize Him and trust Him.

Jesus came that first Christmas to bring help to the helpless.

Remember how we saw that back in chapter 4?

Jesus in the synagogue back in Capernaum?  He gets out the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and he reads these prophetic words: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.’  Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,  and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”

Jesus came to bring help to the helpless.

Are you helpless?  Then take heart. Jesus cares and is willing to do something about it if you will recognize him and trust in Him.

Have you been helped?

Isn’t that why we’re here today?  I think the application for this is to develop the same response that this man did and the people did who saw the miracle.  V.43

“Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.”

Praise God!

Praise God that he gives mercy to the needy.

Praise God that he helps the helpless because Jesus came.

Now, that’s the first encounter with the poor man, the beggar man.

How about that rich man, the thief?  Chapter 19 starts with a man named Zach.  Chapter 19, verse 1.

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.”

Now, we all know this story, don’t we?

The song is running through most of our heads.

But when it runs through my head, I always say, “Zacchaeus was an evil little man  and an evil little man was he.”

This guy was a “chief tax collector.”  He was the big Kahuna in Jericho.

The tax collector of tax collectors.

So, if tax collectors were hated as sell-outs and traitors to the Romans who were kind of like the legalized mob.  This guy was the like the Kingpin of that legalized mob.

He was wealthy and he’d done it on the backs of the regular people.

He was a sinner in every sense of the word.

He wasn’t a nice little man.  He was an evil little schemer.

I always think that if Luke was a movie, Danny Devito should play Zacchaeus.

Now, what we did we learn last week about rich people being saved?

Easy or hard?  Or somewhere in between?

Not just hard.  Impossible.

But Jesus what?  Does the impossible.

Let’s see what happens to this rich man, this “thief.”  V.3

“[Zacchaeus] wanted to see who Jesus was [why was that?  He, like the blind beggar must have heard about Jesus before.  Maybe he was friends with Levi/Matthew the tax collector that now runs around with Jesus as a disciple.  We don’t know, but we do know that he was very curious about Jesus.  Maybe he had found that wealth was not satisfying.  And that possession cans possess you. And wanted free.  Not sure.  But we do know that he wanted to see who Jesus was], but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.”

He’s a very resourceful man. And now he has a good vantage point to watch this Jesus (unnoticed) from above.

But then Jesus surprises Him.  Doesn’t Jesus love to surprise? V.5

“When Jesus reached the spot [the very spot, I love that!], he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’”

How did He know his name?

I don’t know.  Maybe supernaturally.  Maybe Zacchaeus was infamous in Jericho.

Either way, Jesus stops right there and says, “You’re my hotel tonight.”

“‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’”

“I must.”

Did you notice that?  He’s got to do it. Jesus has.

It’s part of why Jesus has come!  It’s His mission.

And Zach is excited.  V.6

“So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”

But others weren’t so excited.  V.7

“All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'”


Now, what does that remind you of?

Does that connect in your brain to Luke chapter 15?

To the black hats and the white hats?

Which one is Zacchaeus?  He’s a black hat.   Oh man, is his hat black!

He is a sinner!  And he’s a rich sinner.  How hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God!  It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

[Yes, I put Heather’s needle back where it belongs.  Don’t worry!]

Zacchaeus is a sinner.  A bad one.

But guess what?  That’s why Jesus came!

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.”

What was Abraham the father of?


Zacchaeus has faith!  Genuine faith.

And faith in Jesus.  And that means....salvation!  Wahoo!

“Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.”

Jesus Came to Bring Salvation to Sinners.

Do you know how Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was saved?

Because he was changed.

Because he was generous.

Because he did what the rich young ruler was unwilling to do last week.

Remember that?

Let go of your money. Be generous.

The rich ruler said, “I can’t do that.  I am very wealthy and it has control of me.  It’s my god.”

But Zacchaeus said, “Here and now I give half of my possession to the poor, and if (that’s a big if!) I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

That’s a real change.  That’s real growth.  The Bible word for that is “REPENT.”

Whenever there is real faith, there will be real fruit.  Real repentance.

Salvation changes us.

Don’t believe someone who says that they are saved who aren’t changed at all.

Salvation, when it comes, changes us.  It doesn’t make us perfect. But it starts on the hard road of sanctification and growth.

And it’s really obvious when salvation makes us generous. 

When repentance makes us generous!

One writer says, “You may have reached a sticking point in your spiritual development, and you wonder why. You read your Bible, your language has changed, and you are honest. But regular, generous giving? Well, you are not quite ready for that. Therefore, you do not keep growing in your soul. Zacchaeus was ready because he was regenerated. He was ready because he was enlarged. The gospel makes little men big!”  (Kent Hughes, Luke, Vol 2, pg. 226).

I like that!  “The gospel makes little men big.”

Zacchaeus was changed by the salvation that had come to his house.

Imagine that tax refund!

Not just repaid but four times the amount stolen.

The thief has been saved.

“Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.”

What came to his house? Salvation.

Who came to his house?  Jesus.

Jesus Came to Bring Salvation to Sinners.

In other words, verse 10.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

That’s the reason for the season.

That’s the reason for Christmas.

That’s Jesus’ purpose in coming.

Why Did Jesus Come?


Now, that should remind you of Luke 15.

Something lost, a desperate search, and when it is found...what?  A party!

What was lost?


God’s own people were lost.

And Jesus came to seek them and to save them.

That’s what Christmas is all about.

Christmas is about Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!

Because the only way for Jesus to save the lost is to go through what He said He would back in chapter 18, verse 32.  “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him, and kill him.”  But that won’t be the end.  “On the third day he will rise again.”

And save that which was lost!

As we go into these last two weeks until Christmas, we need to keep this squarely in our minds.  Christmas is not about ... fill in the blank with whatever false messages that are out there.

Christmas is about Jesus coming to seek and to save what was lost.

People like you and me.

Now, there are two applications to that.

And the first is for those who are still lost.

If you are not yet found, then “Come Down!”

Jesus is saying to you, like He did to Zacchaeus, “Come down immediately.  I want to be with you.”

Repent and Come Down.

Call out like the beggar, “Have mercy on me.”

Trust in what Jesus did on the Cross for you.

And begin to follow Him by faith.

Come down.

Don’t stay up in that tree.

Salvation is free, and it’s seeking you.

But you have to receive it.

Come down.

That’s what it’s all about.

Come down!

Jesus does the impossible. 
He can turn around the most wicked life!
He can fix the most broken things!
He can bring salvation to the vilest sinners.

Come down.

... And for all who have come down.


See all of the joy of these two very different men?

One poor, blind, begging.  He (18, v.43) follows Jesus praising God!
One rich, despised, wicked.  He (19, v.6) welcomes Jesus “gladly.”

Salvation comes to both of them.


Jesus has come to:

bring help to the helpess and salvation to sinners
to seek and to save what was lost

He brings...Joy to the World.


Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and Jerusalem
Jesus at the Party
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus and the Lost: Part One
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three
Jesus on Money
Sneering at Jesus
Jesus and the Great Chasm
Jesus Said to His Disciples...
Thanking Jesus
Jesus and the Coming Kingdom
Jesus Says, "Keep Praying"
The Proud, the Humble, and Jesus
Jesus Does the Impossible