Beyond the Table
Newbreak’s Sermon Study Guide is an in-house resource that serves sermon-based Life Groups and/or individuals who want to reflect further on how the message contributes to their spiritual formation. In this week’s study, we look at an encounter Jesus has with Zacchaeus as we see that one encounter with Jesus changes life beyond the table!
Icebreakers for Life Groups
- Did you and your friends climb trees as kids? When was the last time you climbed a tree? How did that go?
- What is your favorite meal that someone has invited you over to have? What made it so good?
Going Deeper Into the Message: Within each of us is a desire to know Jesus.
Read Luke 19:1–7
Point 1 – Push past the barriers.
I wonder if Zacchaeus caught word about how Jesus treated and interacted with other tax collectors. Did he? Here he was... ostracized by his Jewish community. And he heard Jesus was in town. Then, he makes his way to Jesus. He was determined to see him. As a man of small stature and an infamous reputation, it would not be easy for him to get close to Jesus in proximity. But we have to admire his tenacity!
So, what does he do? He climbs a sycamore tree.
It’s probably no small connection that Zacchaeus was hiding behind some fig leaves, the very same kind of leaves that Adam and Eve used to hide from God in the garden (and it is the same root word in both passages!). We can make the connection that Zacchaeus was in hiding: surely his peers ostracized him and wanted him to feel hidden for all the ways he betrayed his kinsmen. Like God in the garden, so Jesus wanted to bring Zacchaeus out of hiding. He calls him by name just as Adam and Eve were called by name. Jesus is seeking Zacchaeus out for an encounter that will change his life forever.
Once we’re in close proximity, once we began to seek Him out...what we’ll find is that... Jesus is always pursuing us, just as he did with Zachaeus.
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. (Luke 19:5–6, NIV)
Zacchaeus didn’t introduce himself... JESUS KNEW HIM ALREADY.
You are not lost to God. Whatever “tree” you are hiding in, come on down. He wants to meet with you! As common as the meal table was in their culture so Jesus wants to invade the ordinary space of your life. He is ready to encounter you!
Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
- Have you ever invited yourself over to someone’s house to have a meal? If so, how well did you know them? If not, would you ever? Why, or why not?
- This part of scripture highlights how it’s Jesus that seeks after us. How do you respond when He seeks after you? How would you like to respond?
- When Jesus wants to make a surprise visit to your house, into your life, do you welcome Him immediately, or do you feel like you want to go home first and get things “all cleaned up” before He arrives? What do you need to do to “welcome Him gladly” when He “must stay at your house today?”
Within each of us is a desire to know Jesus.
Read Luke 19:8–10
Point 2 – Do not leave the table the same as you came!
As Jesus and Zacchaeus walked back to Zacchaeus’ house and the people were whispering under their breaths about how Jesus was going “to be the guest of a sinner”
Zacchaeus must have kept looking up to Jesus to see how He was going to react to the taunts and ridicule of the people of that town. He may have been getting more and more nervous as he got closer to home. But as he was in the presence of Jesus, I’m sure his heart rate slowed down. As Jesus ignored the jeers of those around Him and the criticisms of the powerful in the city, Zacchaeus probably forgot his nervousness and just focused his attention on Jesus.
When they got to the house and Zacchaeus told the household to prepare a meal for his special guest and Jesus was willing to sit at his table and share a meal with him, Zacchaeus just wanted to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. The more time he spent with Jesus, the more he realized that he just wanted to please Him. He just wanted to do the things that would make Jesus proud of him, not because he had to, but because Zacchaeus wanted to do whatever he could to please the one who accepted him when he was unworthy, who didn’t show judgment, who loved first.
The more time we spend in the presence of the Savior, the more we feel His love for us and His desire for us to be the men and women He created us to be. Out of our gratitude for that love and acceptance, we learn to love Him. We show our love for Him by making the changes in our lives He reveals to us. As He shows us where we can become better, where we can make amends for wrongs we’ve done, how we can grow and mature, we’re excited to change for the better for Jesus.
Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
- What is one area that God has revealed needs some work in your life?
- What steps can you take to make those changes?
- Are you excited to make things right towards others who you may have wronged? What may be holding you back from pursuing that?
- Jesus can reclaim any life for Himself, if we are willing to invite Him in, no matter what we’ve done. How can we help you invite Him in today?
Final Challenge Questions
- How are you going to think or live differently in light of what you have read, heard, and discussed this week?
- How does this week’s message shape or nurture your relationship with God?
- BONUS: For those of you with kids or around kids: What is one truth from this message that you can share with your kids in a way that they would relate to or understand?