Zacchaeus Encounter with the Lord!!!
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”……. Luke 18:1-10
In our last study, we considered the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the temple to Pray. We noted that the parable was designed to instruct those who think they are righteous and look down on others with contempt. We conclude that those who despise others have their Prayers hindered and return home unjustified. Today we shall considered the popular story of the conversion of Zacchaeus and his restitution.
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.: Here is a rich young tax collector, very similar to the young rich ruler who came to Jesus that we studied earlier. But there was a difference in the result of their encounter with Jesus. Zacchaeus was a man who have gotten his wealth by cheating others in their taxes. He was indeed the chief of Sinners. But the Lord came passing through the city where He lived. I wonder what would have happened if Jesus did not pass through his city. Zacchaeus would have been lost forever!!! If the Lord had not come to us, I wondered how any of us would have been saved. Indeed, it was the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, that leads us to repentance(Romans 2:4). It was the Lord that made the first approach towards us. He was the one that came seeking for us. If we ever come to love the Lord, it was because He loved is first. Let us therefore be grateful that the Lord has come across our path that we might be able to lay hold of Him.
And he sought to see who Jesus was, .: Zacchaeus must have heard so much about Jesus and so He was so eager to see Him. As rich as he was, He longed to see Jesus. Sinners have no Peace unless they have seen Jesus with their eyes of faith. There is a space in Man’s heart that would never be satisfied unless the Lord has filled it up. This rich man had no Peace in his heart because he had not seen Jesus. This is the perfect condition of a heart ready to see the salvation of the Lord. Such a heart never have rest until it has seen the Lord. I hope You have seen the Lord with your eyes of faith? I hope your wealth has not deceived you to think that everything is alright when you have not seen the Lord? The Young rich Ruler discovered this and he came running to Jesus saying, “Master, what is the one thing I still lack to inherit eternal life?”
But could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature: As eager as Zacchaeus was to see the Lord, there were two things that hindered Him. One was external and the other was genetic by his natural stature. The external hindrance was the crowd. The crowd often makes it very difficult for a man to have a personal encounter with the Lord. Many have missed God’s purpose for their lives because they were considering what the crowd will say or how they will be looked upon. Many young ones have missed great encounters with the Lord because they just could not ignore the crowd of mockers around them and lay hold of the Lord. If we will ever have a transforming encounter with the Lord, we must forget the crowd and focus on Jesus. We must forget ourselves and others opinion about us as we come to the Lord. The other thing that hindered Zacchaeus was his genetic make up. He was born short. He was born like that, there was nothing He could do about it. No matter how much he tried to, his shortness will never allow Him to see Jesus. This is exactly what Sin has done to us. We are all born short of the Glory of God. Romans 2:23 says, ” for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. This is our genetic make up. There is nothing we can do about it. Sin cuts a Man short in the presence of God. Sin cut short and makes it impossible to Fellowship with God. Sin cuts short the circuit of the flow of Grace and anointing in one’s life. No matter how long you try, Sin prevents you from seeing the True nature of Jesus Christ. Oh what a terrible thing Sin does to every life in which it has Dominion!!! So what are we to do? Are we to Die like that among the crowd without seeing the Lord? Will our genetic make up hinder us forever from seeing Jesus? May the Lord grant us revelation that we might learn from the actions of Zacchaeus that made him see the Lord despite His shortness.
So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.: Beautiful Picture!!!! Imagine this Short rich Man running ahead to see this Poor Carpenter from Nazareth. He ran head of the crowd!!! Those who will have a personal encounter with the Lord must run ahead of the opinion of the crowd. We must be personal in seeking the Lord for our lives. One of the first thing the Lord seeks to do for us is separate us from the crowd to have a personal encounter with Him. I remember the Lord said to Abraham, ” Get out of your country, From your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation(Genesis 12:1-2). No one becomes great in the hand of God without being separated from the crowd. Hear what the Lord says also in 2 Corinthians 6:17, ” Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.” So Zacchaeus Ran ahead and became separated to see the Lord. How is it with you? Are you still cleaving with the crowd and expect to see the Lord? Are you still paying attention to the opinions of the crowd and expect to have an encounter with the Lord? I beg You with the mercies of the Lord to run ahead and be separated as you wait upon the Lord. Run ahead!!!
Nevertheless, the fact that he ran ahead will still not qualify Him to see the Lord because of his genetic make up!!! I pray the Lord grant you revelation on this matter I want to raise. The fact that you have separated yourself from the Crowd will still not be a guarantee that you will have an encounter with the Lord. Our nature is general corrupt!!! All our Labour and works for salvation will not save us. Although Zacchaeus laboured by running ahead to see the Lord, yet his natural stature will still hinder Him. If running ahead was the thing that made Zacchaeus saw the Lord, then He would have boasted. I perceive He would have said, “If not that I ran, I would never have seen the Lord. If not for my running skills, Jesus would have passed Me by. But because I ran, I saw the Lord”. But Zacchaeus can never have this kind of boast simply because despite his running, He needed a sycamore tree to lift Him up to see Jesus!!! Whereas He could run from the Crowd, yet all the credit goes to the Sycamore tree that He climbed upon to increase his height to see the Lord. He never planted the Tree!!! The Tree was not His own. This is a picture of Grace!!! The sycamore tree is the internal work of Grace that change our nature from a Sinner to a saint. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, ” For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”. We were not saved by our running around, it is not by what we did that we were saved. All the credit of our salvation goes to the sycamore tree of Grace which empowers us to see Jesus. It is a gift of God!!! So why the boast? Did you plant the Tree? Shame on all those who say, “Because I fasted, God saved Me!!! Because I did this and that, God saved me!!!” All the credit of our salvation goes to God for the Grace He has made available to us. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.(Philippians 2:13).
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” : Jesus getting to the place was prompted by the Holy Spirit to look up and he saw Zacchaeus and called Him by name. Jesus know the exact place where those who are seeking for him are located and He never passes them by. If you are really seeking the Lord, He will definitely come to you. If you have not encountered the Lord, it is because you are not seeking for Him. God never passes by a thirsty soul. He is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek Him(Hebrews 11:6). His call on Zacchaeus was direct and Confrontational. He called Him by his name. He needed no one to introduce Zacchaeus to Him. God the Father supernaturally reveals the name of seeking souls to Jesus. God eyes look all over the world and finds those who are sincerely seeking and not one of them He allows to slip by. He is the same Yesterday, today and forever. Anyone seeking the Lord like Zacchaeus will never be passed by. Are you seeking the Lord? Fear not, He knows You by name!!! John 10:3 says, ” He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.”
He said to Zacchaeus, “make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.!!! It was a command!!! It demand haste!!! We can never be sluggish or undecided when the Lord’s gaze had come upon our lives. We must come down from every thing that makes us big in the eyes of Men and Humble ourselves at the Lord’s feet. All those who have encountered the Lord had to come down to the ground. We must make haste and not be sluggish in coming down for the Lord to draw near to us.
Notice, Jesus does not just want to meet us, He wants to stay at our house. He wants to come into a permanent relationship and fellowship with us. He wants to abide with us forever. He wants to bring the joy and atmosphere of Heaven into our dwelling. Oh what a wonderful thing to have Jesus say to us, ” Today I must stay at your house” Will you be comfortable having Jesus stay in your house forever? I know you will all say, “Yes”. But do you know the implications? You will not be able to watch that dirty TV programs and those dirty musical videos. It will be impossible to complain when mummy and Daddy gives you a job to do. You will not be able to shout at your wife and the wife will have no choice but to submit to her husband. You will have to study the Bible instead of gossip and judging others and no one will dare try to lie!!! Do you want these in your house? We deceive ourselves if we say Jesus is in our house yet do all these. May the Lord give us Grace to stop living in delusion.
So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.: Look at the way Zacchaeus reacted to the Lord. He made haste and came down with Joy!!! Do you have such Joy that the Lord wants to stay in your house or you are not comfortable to have Him around? Others complained!!! They said, ” “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner”. They look down on Sinners but Jesus came to save Sinners. Jesus did not allow people to live in their Sins but He came to save them. He would not turn away from a Man just because He was a Sinner and He will not turn away from you because you are a Sinner. You can be the greatest Sinner in the whole world and Jesus will not turn you away on that account. If He turns people away, it is because they turn away themselves because they were not willing to give up their Sins. Maybe they were not willing to give up their love of money like the other young rich ruler. But where a person is willing to give up his sin even if he is the chief of Sinners, Jesus would forgive Him and come and dwell with him permanently and change him. But religious people and self righteous Pharisees cannot understand that. Truly Zacchaeus had became rich by cheating but He was the one that found a place in God’s Kingdom. Jesus said to the religious leaders of his days, ” Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots will enter the kingdom of God before you(Matt 21:31). This is exactly what we see here.
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”: Zacchaeus was amazed that a Holy person like Jesus could come and be a guest of a Sinful person like Him. He was so convicted that He started confessing His Sins. I perceived He was like saying, “Jesus wait ooooo. Before you come into my house, let me tell you something. Maybe you don’t know me well. I have cheated people of their tax money. In fact this house we are going to, it was built from the money I cheated people of. But now, I am willing to restore and make restitution to those I have cheated even fourfold!!. Jesus never spoke a word to Zacchaeus about these. The very light of Jesus presence convicted Zacchaeus of his sin. Every work of Darkness was immediately exposed and renounced. It cannot be different in your own life if you have an encounter with Jesus.
Notice, He was not only going to restore back to those he has cheated with fourfold interest, but he was also going to give half of his possessions to the poor. He decided to be generous. He knew that generosity was also important to be free from the Love of Money. It is not enough that we return what we have taken wrongfully, but we must also help those who are in need. To be faithful with material thing is a far higher thing than just being righteous with it. We don’t get free from the love of money by returning what we have cheated. There are lots of people who don’t cheat others but who are still not faithful in money matters. We must learn to be generous with what we have earned.
Notice, restitution is a very important part of conversion. We must give back what we have wrongfully cheated others of as far as we remember.
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost”: Notice that it was when Zacchaeus said He will make restitution and give back all he had taken wrongful that Jesus made this statement. Salvation comes to a Man when He has come to this point!!! How do we know when a person has genuinely repented? One proof is that such a person is willing to set matters right concerning those things He did wrong in his previous life. This is the clearest proof of genuine conversion. And it is when Jesus saw that in Zacchaeus that Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house”. When Jesus sees the same attitude in us, he says the same thing. That change attitude to money is another mark of conversion. When a person begins to value Heavenly wealth more than Earthly wealth. But it is sad that this is not true about a lot of converts today and that is the reason for a lot of shallow Believers because their conversion is not deep like Zacchaeus. It is a dangerous thing to go around telling people that they are saved when Jesus is not yet ready to tell them that they are saved.
Notice another thing, Jesus does not have to wait until Zacchaeus have returned all the money he has stolen. This is the balance of Scripture!!! Returning all may have taken a long time. It may take years because He does not have the money or know where to locate those he has cheated. So when does salvation comes? Is it when a Man has made complete restitution? NO!!! It is when a Man decides to make restitution. Have you decided to set everything right in your life? It may take you five or ten years to repay but salvation comes the moment the willingness is there. Willingness is taken as Action by God. Once you have the willingness, it is accounted to you as Action. 2 Corinthians 8:12 says, ” For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.”
Zacchaeus was lost in the love of money and unfaithfulness but Jesus has come to save all those who are lost in that. The Lord is seeking People who are lost in Sexual Lust, and material things. If you acknowledge your need and say, “Lord I am lost in this and that”, then the Lord will save you. Zacchaeus acknowledged his need and if we do the same, Jesus will save us too.
Dear Friend, Do you want to have a lasting encounter with the Lord? Then Run ahead of the crowd and the Grace of God will lift you up to see Jesus. He is seeking to have a lasting relationship with you in your house. Expose every work of darkness to the Lord. Be willing to set things right and the Lord will say to you, ” salvation has come to this house”. May the Lord give us Grace to apply these truths to our lives.(Amen). God bless you. Have a blessed day.
#Everyday with Jesus