He knows your name

May 28, 2021 by Dr. Jack Graham

As a child I learned a song in church that I’m sure many of you know. It’s based on a story found in Luke 19 and it begins like this:

Zaccheus was a wee little man,

And a wee little man was he.

He climbed up in a sycamore tree,

For the Lord he wanted to see.

 It’s a catchy little song, but don’t write it off as just a song for kids because the story it tells, found in Luke 19:1-10 carries some profound truths. This is what it says:

“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. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

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

I want to share a few things with you from this passage. The first actually comes from the last verse in the text, and I believe that’s a perfect summation of Jesus’ mission:

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. 

The word lost here doesn’t just mean something misplaced, like a set of keys. It means something that has lost its purpose. Something that is not fulfilling the purpose for which it was made. It’s broken, not functioning.

Zacchaeus was lost, broken. And the truth is, every person is lost without Jesus – we are all failing to fulfill the purpose for which we were designed.

Jesus came to find us and restore our function, redeem us for God’s purpose.

Now let’s look at what happened when Jesus encountered Zacchaeus on that road. There are four things I want you to notice. They applied to Zacchaeus, but they also are true for you when you encounter the Son of Man.

1. He knows your name

As he was passing by, Jesus stopped, looked up into the tree, and called Zacchaeus by name. He didn’t point and say “hey you”, he called his name. Jesus had a personal encounter with Zacchaeus. And he calls each of us by name.

2. He makes you what you aren’t

Zacchaeus’ name means “pure” but as a despised tax collector, someone who cheated other Jews and was rejected by them, he was anything BUT pure. That is, until Jesus called him. None of us are righteous, none are pure, but Jesus makes us that way.

3. He welcomes you as a friend

This is the only place in the Bible where we find Jesus inviting himself over to someone’s home. Even though he didn’t know Zacchaeus, he stopped and said, “I must stay at your house today.” He treats Zacchaeus, the hated tax collector, like a dear friend. Not only does he invite himself, but he brings his buddies and says, “we’re staying for dinner.”

Jesus wants to make himself at home in your heart. He wants to be your friend.  Christianity, it’s been said, isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship. Jesus wants a personal relationship with you.

4. He changes your life

In verse 9, Jesus says, “today salvation has come to this household.” Zacchaeus joyfully received Jesus, running ahead to prepare to welcome him into his home.

The story continues that it wasn’t simply a matter of sharing a meal. Zacchaeus’ heart grew, he became someone who gave to the poor, and made restitution to those he’d cheated. After his meeting with Jesus, things were never the same for him. And that’s what happens for us when we encounter Jesus, welcome him in, and experience a changed heart.

Jesus was just passing through Jericho that day. And he’s still passing through today, inviting each of us into a relationship where we’re his friend, no longer lost, restored to our God-given purpose.

Thank you for reading, I pray this article is an encouragement to you. You can also watch my sermon titled “He Knows My Name” here. 

And if you’d like to help others encounter the life changing power of the gospel, any gift you give today will be DOUBLED by a $180,000 Matching Grant so that together, we can continue sharing the hope of Jesus around the world.

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