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I Surrender All

 

Luke 19:1-10

 

Jim Davis

 

We know more than we want to know about surrendering ourselves to temptations. We all know something about giving up our lives for our selfish momentary pleasures. Most of us know more about surrender than we want to. We surrender our health for our appetites. We surrender our fortunes for momentary shopping sprees. We surrender ourselves for the approval of our peers.  We surrender our relationships to live selfish lives. We surrender our sanity for insanity.

 

I believe Zacchaeus was a man who knew something about of surrender.

 

Luke 19:1-10

19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

 

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

 

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

 

8 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."

 

9 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." NIV

 

Zacchaeus was a "chief tax collector” for the Roman government. He was equal to our chief of Internal Revenue Service. A tax collector under the Roman tax collecting system gained his income by extorting more money from the people than he had contracted to pay the Roman government. Evidently the system had worked well for Zacchaeus for he was wealthy.

 

A man on vacation was strolling along outside his hotel in Acapulco, enjoying the sunny Mexican weather. He heard the screams of a woman kneeling in front of a child. The man knew enough Spanish to determine that the boy had swallowed a coin. Seizing the child by the heels, the man held him up, gave him a few shakes, and an American quarter dropped to the sidewalk. “Oh, thank you sir!” cried the woman. “You seemed to know just how to get it out of him. Are you a doctor?” “No, ma’am,” replied the man. “I’m with the United States Internal Revenue Service.”...

 

This was how Zacchaeus had lived.

 

The Soul Hungers for the Real Thing

 

Zacchaeus had reached the peak of the corporate ladder, and it is evident he wasn’t satisfied. The commendable thing about Zacchaeus was that he realized he had climbed the wrong ladder. I would like to think it was more than curiosity that made him climb that tree. Even though the system had worked well for Zacchaeus it seems as though he was in search of something better. Zacchaeus looked for Jesus with an air of expectancy. He knew if Jesus was who he claimed to be, it would cost him his job as a tax collector.

 

The critics were skeptical of Zacchaeus, but they failed to see what was going on inside Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus’ meeting with Jesus revolutionized him, but he was ready for the change. His soul was hungry for the real thing. He realized all the roads built in this world lead to the same place—a dead end. The dead end always leaves us desiring the real thing. Even if you become the master of your on fate, it is still a dead end road.

 

The obituary of Ernest M. Dickerman, age 87, considered the granddad of the Eastern wilderness by the Sierra Club, said he committed suicide at his cabin in the mountains of Buffalo Gap, Virginia:

 

He was 87. He was found under a cherry tree behind his cabin, having shot himself, police said. In a note to his family, Mr. Dickerman said he took his own life as he had long planned to do after the infirmities of age left him unable to "master my own fate in the wilds of this wild country." (Chicago Tribune (8-6-98), Section 2).

 

We are all masters of our own fate; we can do whatever we choose with our lives. Zacchaeus was certainly the master of his own fate, but he didn’t like his fate. You can only wonder what Zacchaeus was expecting of Jesus. I don’t think he expected Jesus to invite himself into his home. However, I think he was expecting to pay a high price to satisfy his hunger for the real thing.

 

Soul hunger is real for everyone. This emptiness we feel as we search for a better world is soul hunger. This emptiness we feel as we run down to the mall to buy the latest fad is actually soul hunger for the real thing. We just have a difficult time recognizing soul hunger is what’s essentially driving us. We are just looking in all the wrong places. We may seek to satisfy it with money, sex, education, career, or family. But God is the only real thing that can satisfy it.

 

Do you know how you can know you are on the road to discovering the real thing? It is when your life is blessing others. Zacchaeus says, “I will give half I own to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone, I will pay them four times what I defrauded them out of.” I can only wonder if it took half of what he owned to pay those he had defrauded. Try to imagine how Zacchaeus’ life impacted those he paid restitution to.

 

True conversion always affects our relationships with others. Zacchaeus’ conversion was thorough; it not only impacted him inwardly, but it impacted others outwardly. Everyone knew he was a sinner, and now everyone is going to know that Zacchaeus met Jesus. There want be any question about his conversion. Imagine the lives he impacted for Jesus.

 

His desire led him to replace his code of conduct with God’s. This always impacts the lives of others. To surrender to God we must accept God’s standards of morality. Surrender doesn’t have anything to do with adapting God’s standards to the way we want to live. We can’t live perfect lives, but we can’t adapt God’s rule to fit our weaknesses, prejudices, preferences, etc.

 

We must surrender our wills. If we seek to embrace God outwardly, while leaving our wills unchanged it is only a matter of time until we begin to sin outwardly. God is very much concerned about our thought life.

 

The church grows today when we give ourselves wholeheartedly to God. Then we will begin to impact the lives of others for Christ. Can you even imagine what the crowd’s were saying about Zacchaeus as he began to make restitution to those he had defrauded?

 

The Price of Surrender

 

We all live surrendered lives. They are just surrendered to different things. We always surrender all we are to whatever it is we spend our lives doing. If you choose to be a bum or president the price is the same. If you chose to live for God or live for Satan the price is the same. We rarely contemplate the price this world demands for our pursuits. We rarely know the real price to be paid until it is too late. However, the price for surrender is perpetually the same.

 

The rich young ruler came to Jesus asking, “What good thing must I do to inherit the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus told him to keep the commandments. Jesus listed the commandments for him. The young ruler told Jesus he had kept them all since his youth. Then Jesus said, “Go sell all you have and give to the poor, and come and follow me.” He went away sad. He was like many of us. He had already surrendered his life; it was just to the wrong thing.

 

Mark 12:41-44

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 

 

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on." NIV

 

The price for surrender is the same for each of us whether we have little or much. The amazing thing about the gospel stories is they turn our world upside down. If all the rich people there had thrown all their fortunes into the temple treasury they would not have given any more than this poor widow. She had also given all she had, and that’s all God ask of everyone. God wants all there is of you.

 

We would like to divide what we have with God. We say this is mine and this is God’s. No God wants all there is of us. When we make God lord of all, all we have will be enough.

 

Zacchaeus had paid a high price for his worldly success for he had fully surrendered everything to it, including his reputation. It seems as though everybody in the crowd knew he was a sinner. Zacchaeus was probably comparable to some of our corporate executives who have disgraced themselves and their families to impress the world.

 

The price Zacchaeus paid to embrace Jesus convinces me he knew the cost of surrendering his life to the wrong thing. Zacchaeus didn’t let his pride stand in his way. He climbed the tree. After all there was no one left for him to impress, they all had his number. He humbled himself in the sight of the Lord and my, my, he was lifted higher than he had ever been.

 

It is ironic that we resist surrender to God, for we readily surrender to lesser gods. Flip Wilson was a popular comedian several years ago, some of you are old enough to remember him, and some are not.

1. But one of his characters was a Preacher at the "What’s Happening Now Church." In a skit that he did he told about this preacher.

2. He’d yell: "IF THIS CHURCH IS GOING TO SERVE GOD IT’S GOT TO GET DOWN ON ITS KNEES AND CRAWL!!!"

3. And the audience who was being prompted to be the congregation would yell back "Make it crawl preacher, make it crawl!

4. And then he would yell: "AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO CRAWL, IT’S GOT TO GET UP ON ITS FEET AND WALK!!!"

5. And the audience would yell back "Make it walk preacher, make it walk."

6. Then he would say: AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO WALK IT’S GOT BEGIN TO LEARN TO RUN!!!"

7. And they would yell, "Make it run, preacher, make it run!"

8. Then he would say, "AND IN ORDER TO RUN, ITS GOT REACH DEEP DOWN INTO POCKETS AND LEARN TO GIVE!!!"

9. And there would be a pause, and the people would say "Make it crawl preacher, make it crawl."

 

What we fail to realize is that the price for crawling and the price for running are the same. They demand all there is of us.

 

The Rewards of Surrender are Different

 

The price of surrender is the same for everyone, but the rewards are different. We may surrender ourselves in such small increments as we give ourselves over to whatever it is we are pursuing that we convince ourselves the price isn’t really that high. Don’t kid yourself the price is the same.

 

The price of surrender would seem far different if we would only consider the rewards.

 

Luke 16:19-31

19 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

 

22 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

 

25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

 

27 "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

 

29 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

 

30 "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

 

31 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" NIV

 

Colin Smith said he had vivid memories as a kid of his father taking him to an auction sale, telling him, "Don't scratch your nose at the wrong time, son." He said to him, "Always remember this: whenever you go to an auction sale, make sure you know your upper limit price."

 

That was ingrained in him. The great danger for us is that we walk into the Christian life knowing clearly our upper limit price. Jesus does not allow us to set that. "If you save your life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake and the gospel's, you will keep it," said Jesus.

 

Whatever our calling it is to a life of unconditional surrender where the price is unknown. (Colin Smith, Arlington Heights, Illinois; source: Preaching Today).

 

Conclusion:

 

First century Christians gave, or shall we say surrendered themselves to the Lord.

 

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

8:1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.   5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. NIV

 

Have you given yourself to the Lord?

 

For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his own soul?

 

Baptism is surrendering to the Lord. We surrender to Jesus’ death. The price seems too high, but remember the price is always the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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