Sunday, December 30, 2012



As we come to the 19th chapter of Luke we are treated to the delightful story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. Let's check it out:

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 what was lost."
Wow! This is a fascinating story of a heart transformation. Here the chief tax collector is apprehended by Jesus while perched up in a sycamore tree. The scene is so visual. Zacchaeus is up in a tree so he can get a glimpse of Jesus. Everyone is talking about it. And, while waiting up there in the tree, Jesus looked up and invited Himself to lunch-at Zach's house. Talk about a shocker-for both Zacchaeus and the people watching!

I love what happens here. This is a divine appointment of the highest kind. Probably it was at the gathering at Zach's house, Zacchaeus stood up and made a most interesting pronouncement. He declared that he will give half of all his possessions to the poor and he will pay back four times the amount to those he has cheated. This is so typical. Simply by a personal encounter with Jesus, Zach is a transformed man and wants to pay back all he owes them, give half of what he makes to the poor and give four times the amount to those he has already cheated.

What happened? I think it's quite simple. Any time a person enters into an encounter with Jesus, he is changed. Zach Is coming alongside Jesus and is thoroughly changed by doing this.

Then Jesus expresses what many believe is the key verse of the book of Luke. He says, "For the son of man has come to seek and to save those who are lost." Jesus' relentless search for you and me is absolutely amazing. Jesus will go to extreme measures to interrupt what you're doing in order to bring you back to Himself.

I think what strikes me the deepest is the immediacy of Zach's heart to repay those he has cheated. It's as if when Jesus entered the picture, Zach's other gods or focal points of his life meant nothing. The same is true today. When you see Jesus for what and who he is, nothing else matters. Paul speaks of this in the letter to the followers of Jesus in the book of Colossians. I love this passage where Paul says, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him."

Now I ask you, if you are having lunch with the one who embodies all the fullness of God, wouldn't your life be changed, too? I think everyone ought to meet Jesus for lunch, because that luncheon will transform your entire life.

Maybe that ought to be our daily prayer. Lord, "I want to have lunch with Jesus today." Then after that lunch, you will never recover. Why? Because once you have been apprehended in your heart by Jesus, nothing else matters.



As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" 

Contrast this blind beggar outside of Jericho with the rich, young ruler-from the "seemingly" most desirable disciple to "seemingly" the most undesirable. 

Certainly the rich businessman seems to be the one who had more potential of advancing the kingdom. However, this is not kingdom thinking, but worldly. Remember, always check your thinking and you will see that many times what Jesus would do will be the opposite.

In Mark's gospel this beggar is identified as Bartimaeus. This poor man has developed a lifestyle of begging for a living along the road in and out of Jericho.
Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied.

NOTE blind Bart called Jesus "Son of David" which is a messianic title-the promised descendant of King David. It's interesting to note that since it was mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus, this is the first time He has been called Son of David. And, in a few days He will be greeted and welcomed as the Son of David as He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. This is the reason why Bartimaeus wasn't asking Jesus for money as he did to all of the others who passed by. He was asking for more than that-to see again! Jesus seems to make a point of this by asking him what he wanted Jesus to do for him. And blind Bart's answer was, "I want to see."

Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. 

Jesus' response to Bart's request to see was specifically answered and attributed to his faith. He had a faith that didn't fly in the wind nor did it take no for an answer.

This blind beggar on the side of the road with a persistent and stubborn faith serves as an example for us all. What I like best is how quickly the formerly blind Bart began his journey of following Jesus. That's the ultimate proof of the genuineness of his faith. Remember Jesus said, "He who hears my word and practices it is like a man who builds his house on a rock. He who hears my word and doesn't practice it is like a foolish man who builds his house on the sand without a firm foundation."

ONE MORE THING. Jesus was drawn to this man because of his brokenness. His brokenness or blindness is the connector to Jesus. This blindness didn't keep Bart from pursuing the ultimate answer to his problems. And, He knew that this man would be useful to Him on His journey to Jerusalem, so he allowed him to follow alongside Him.

In so many cases, the gateway to Jesus is through our brokenness. Jesus came as a great physician, looking for sick people. He was not making a list of those who were well without any needs. He continually gravitated toward the broken, the bruised, the addicted and the poor. The only thing I have to share with Jesus that will get His attention right away is my brokenness. This is why I am always yelling out to Jesus like the blind man, "Hey Jesus, over here! "
It's like the young man who said: "Jesus, I have a problem. It's me." And Jesus quickly replies, "My son, I have the answer. It's Me."