Lessons from Zacchaeus – Grace, Found and Blessed

When Zacchaeus the sinner  encounters the Savior Jesus Christ, he receives Jesus joyfully and promises to return and restore all that he had falsely and deceptively acquired. In response to Zacchaeus change of heart, Jesus makes an interesting and profound statement of assurance by saying “Today, salvation has come into this (Zacchaeus’) house and that Zaccaheus is also a son of Abraham.”

While superficially it may seem that Zacchaeus promise of works (to return and restore) is what earned him his salvation, we must be careful to not fall into the trap that our good works can earn the gift of eternal life. It is important to carefully review this encounter and understand that the recognition of Jesus as Lord by Zacchaeus (verse 8 ) is what gave Zacchaeus his salvation as a free gift. Note, how Jesus did not say, go do this and do that and then Salvation will come into your house. Zacchaeus ‘ promise to return and restore (good works) was merely a byproduct of his change of heart and opened eyes by which he saw Jesus as sovereign Lord. It is only by the grace of God and grace alone that one can be saved and not by any works.

For Zacchaeus a man of prominence (chief among the publicans) and a Jew, recognition of Jesus as Lord would mean blasphemy to the other devout and legalistic Jews, but to him it meant that he who was lost and caught up in barren foolishness (syke from where we get ‘syco’ refers to the fig tree signifying barreness – Luke 13:6 and moria from where we get ‘more’ means foolishness or folly) is now found and blessed; found to be blessed as a son of Abraham.

If today we are to meet Jesus, let us not fail to recognize Him as Lord for such a recognition makes us, who are lost in the barren foolishness of trying to work our way to salvation, to be found and blessed, and adopted as children of Abraham, the one who was promised God’s blessings and through whom the nations are blessed. Through you and me, will the nations be blessed?

P.S: This is the day (September 30), 19 years ago, I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. In other words, this day (19 years ago), Salvation came into my heart and I was adopted as a child (son) of God.

Luke 19:6-10 (KJV)
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Lessons from Zacchaeus – Change of heart

Luke 19 records the story of Zacchaeus, the sinner who meets the Savior (Jesus Christ) and when this happens we see that a few things happened in Zacchaeus’ life.

First, Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully (verse 6).
Second, Zacchaeus recognized Jesus to be the Lord (verse 8).
Third, Zacchaeus had a change of heart and from being a man who took, took and took, he vowed to return that which he had taken; to give and to restore (verse 8).

When the sinner who has no hope but the sure overhanging penalty of death, encounters Jesus Christ as a Savior, the natural response that is evoked is one of joy and rejoicing. Jesus is the only one who can turn your day of sorrow into a day of joy (John 16:20).  And when the sinner sees Jesus seeing Him and seeking to be part of his life, a change of heart should occur in which the Lordship of Jesus is recognized and the old is gone and a new creation ensues that vows to give Jesus to those in need and restore their relationships with God the Father.

When a sinner meets the Savior, there is Rejoicing, Recognition, Returning and Restoring. Have you had that encounter?

Luke 19:6-8 (KJV)
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Lessons from Zacchaeus – Seek to see and be seen

Luke 19 records the true story of a short statured, rich and sinful tax collector named Zacchaeus who ran ahead and climbed up a Sycomore tree (IRS guy up the tree) so that he could see Jesus. When Jesus passed by, He told Zacchaeus to come down, to come down quickly (in haste) for Jesus said that he must abide in Zacchaeus’ home.

Some of us may be familiar with this account, but by a mere cursorial review of the story, one may miss out certain hidden truths, the first of which is that Zacchaeus sought the Lord for he was unsatisfied of just hearing about Jesus, He wanted to see Jesus face to face. How many of us have heard of Jesus, but do we really take the time and effort to rise up to see Him?

Secondly, the account records that Jesus beheld (saw) Zacchaeus and asked to be taken into his home (his life in a manner of speaking). When we take the first step to see Jesus, you can be assured that He will see you first and seek to come into your life, changing it accordingly to what God expects of you. Note how Jesus says that He must go into the house of Zacchaeus. The request from Jesus to all today is the same – He must come into our lives.

Thirdly, the account states that Zacchaeus ran ahead (prepared) and climbed the Sycomore tree. Jesus asks him to have the same sense of urgency (saying make haste) to come down from the tree so that Zacchaeus could take Jesus into his home. Are we preparing ourselves to see Jesus and when we encounter Him, let our fervency to connect with Him be equally urgent (in haste).

If you have heard of Jesus but have never seen Him as Savior, take the time and effort to seek to see Him and you can be sure of one thing, Jesus will see (behold) you and seek to come into your life, changing it for good, once and for all. Seek to see and be seen!

Luke 19:1-6 (KJV)
And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

Living as we will never die and Dying as we never lived

King Hezekiah of whom it is said that there was no king like him in all of Israel was told by God that “He will surely die”, but he pleaded for his life to be extended and God added fifteen years to his life. (2 Kings 20:1-11)

However, pitiably there is nothing that we know of the fifteen years that Hezekiah lived. It is as if it would have been better for him to have died when God had originally planned.

Many today live as if they will never die and die as if they have never lived. May this not be said of us.

Psalm 90:12 (KJV)
12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

No time, no time, too much to do

In a world that moves at an accelerated pace, we often find our lives caught in a rut, as if it revolves within a hamster wheel. We make time for many things but when it comes to the work of God, we find ourselves saying that there is no time. Interesting isn’t it that each one of us are given exactly the same amount of time; 24 hours in a day, no matter who you are or where you are. The Bible tells us that Time (life) and Chance (opportunity) is given to ALL (Ecclesiastes 9:11). So what are we doing with the time and chance that has been given to us? Are we finding ourselves saying we have ‘no time’?

Did you ever wonder as to what our plight would have been, if and only if Jesus had said, ‘I have no time‘ to Father God? I hope there never comes a time when Jesus has the need to say that He had no time for us. Read below this poem (author unknown) and respond as the Spirit of God leads you to —

I knelt to pray but not for long, I had too much to do.
I had to hurry and get to work, for bills would soon be due.
So I knelt and said a hurried prayer, and jumped up off my knees.
My Christian duty was now done, my soul could rest at ease.

All day long I had no time, to spread a word of cheer.
No time to speak of Jesus Christ to friends, they’d laugh at me I’d fear.
No time, no time, too much to do,  that was my constant cry,
No time to give to souls in need; But at last the time, the time to die.

I went before the Lord, I came, I stood with downcast eyes.
For in his hands God held a book; It was the book of life.
God looked into his book and said “Your name I cannot find.
I once was going to write it down… But never found the time”

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (KJV)
11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Fishermen and Fishers of men

Many of us are familiar with the event of Jesus calling his first disciples, Peter and his brother Andrew, who were fishermen by profession and in that call, Jesus expressed unto these two the following – Follow me (or Come after me) and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:17).

What is the difference between fishermen and fishers of men?
Fishermen catch that (fish) which is alive and they die.
Fishers of men catch that (men/souls) which are dead and they live.

The call remains open to all who believe in Jesus, even today but it is important to note that in both cases, the call to ‘follow Jesus’ comes first. It is this step we need to first take toward Jesus. Our taking then yields to his making.

Have you/me taken the step toward Jesus?
Jesus can make you to be the means by which, people come to know Him – Life, Life eternally.

Matthew 28:19 (KJV)
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Mark 1:17 (KJV)
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

The Ant and the Grasshopper – Gospel

I have shared this story given below several times in my preaching and teaching engagements. The original Author remains unknown. I am not sure if this is a true account or not, but each time I read or hear this story, it warms my heart and evokes a response to love God even more with all my heart, my soul, my strength and my mind. I pray that it is the same response that you are led to as well …

A mother of a 9 year old boy, Mark, received a phone call in the middle of the afternoon. It was the teacher from her son’s school.
“Mrs. Smith, something unusual happened today in your son’s third grade class. Your son did something that surprised me so much that I thought you should know about it immediately.”
Mother’s seldom want to hear from their child’s teacher in the middle of the day. The mother was uneasy and nervous by such a beginning to a phone call. “What now?” the mother wondered.
The teacher continued, “I have been teaching for many years and nothing like this has happened until now. This morning I was teaching a lesson on creative writing. And as I always do, I tell the story of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant works hard all summer and stores up plenty of food. But the grasshopper plays all summer and does no work.
Then winter comes. The grasshopper begins to starve because he has no food. So he hops to the ants house and begins to beg. ‘Please Mr. Ant, you have much food please let me eat, too.’ Now boys and girls your job is to write the ending to the story.
Your son, Mark, raised his hand. “Teacher, may I draw a picture?”
“Well, yes, Mark, if you like, you may draw a picture. But first you must write the ending to the story.”
The papers came in. As in all the years past, most of the students said that the ant shared his food through the winter and both the ant and the grasshopper lived.
As always, a few children said, ‘The ant said, “No, Mr. Grasshopper. You should have worked in the summer and not played. Now, I have just enough food for myself.” So the ant lived and the grasshopper died.
But your son ended the story in a way different from any other child, ever. He wrote, “So the ant gave all of his food to the grasshopper; the grasshopper lived through the winter. But the ant died.
“And the picture?
At the bottom of the page, Mark had drawn three crosses. “Jesus gave up his life so that we might live eternally”

Matthew 20:28 (KJV)
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

For a related image, see God’s sacrifice, our substitute (Check out where I and U are placed in relation to the crosses)