Monday, April 7, 2014

Little man...Big heart

Revelation 3:20 (NIV) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Have you ever stopped and really thought about your “journey” to find Christ? Whether you’ve been walking with Him for 20 years or 20 minutes, I believe there is a period of “seeking” Him. I grew up in a Christian home and knew Christ from a very early age. By my mid-teens I succumbed to peer pressure eventually leading me far, far away from Christ or anything having to do with Him. My road back to Christ was paved with countless heartaches, mistakes and took over 30 years. As I take a conscious look back over my life, I can see that I was never alone. God was there, on every mountaintop and in every pit.

A few weeks ago our pastor told the story of Zacchaeus in his sermon and it really challenged me to think about my road back to Christ. As I researched the story of Zacchaeus I found out that Christ was on his way back to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. He didn't even have to go through Jericho. There were other, quicker routes he could have taken.  So why would He go out of his way? I believe Jesus knew what was going to happen in the city of Jericho that day.

Zacchaeus was one of the most influential Jews in the Roman tax-collecting business (Luke 19:2 – TLB). He had heard of Jesus and wanted to get a look at Him. Because he was shorter than most, he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a Sycamore tree to get a better look. I wonder what people thought of him as he ran through the crowd? Think about it for just a minute…what would you think if you saw one of the richest men of our time (Bill Gates, Donald Trump) running through the streets just so he could get a look at a man coming down the road? I don’t think Zacchaeus really cared.  Perhaps he wanted to see the man everyone had been talking about…the miracle worker, the great physician, the One who talked with authority. We’re not really told.

It was Christ who spoke first.

“Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5 – NIV)

Okay, so how would you feel if a man you never met knows your name and asks you to come down from your current position and then invites himself to your house for dinner? I think several questions would be running through my head. How does he know my name? Since he knows my name what has he heard about me? He knows I’m a hard-nosed tax collector and he wants to come to my house?

But Zacchaeus doesn't ask any of those questions. Luke 19:6 tells us:

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

Can you just imagine the faces of everyone in the crowd? Luke 19:7 says:

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

Think for just a moment about Jesus’ earthly ministry. Everything He did here on earth was intentional – for a purpose. Jesus crossed racial, social, and political boundaries to reach the lost. That day, Zacchaeus may have been trying to get a look at Jesus….but it was Jesus who saw Him first. Jesus had been knocking at the door of Zacchaeus’ heart and that day Zacchaeus responded. His heart changed. He wasn’t the self-centered tax collector he once was. He was a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). What was the demonstration of change? He gave back more than he had taken.

“But Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘I will give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times more.’ ” (Luke 19:8 – NCV)

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