Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
When the prime minister and his motorcade drive through a town it is usual for people to line the streets to see him. I remember seeing Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 as a small child in Calcutta who was the then prime minister of India. People lined the streets for kilometers to see Rajiv Gandhi pass by. I could see people waiting in the hot son, pushing each other, fighting for a place in the front etc. People are ready to overcome any obstacles to see their heroes in life.
Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
This morning we are going to see some of the obstacles we face when we decide to come to Jesus. We are also going to see the result of truly following Jesus Christ.
I imagine when Jesus walked through the streets of Jericho a week before His death the scene was similar to my experience of seeing Rajiv Gandhi. Jesus was very popular during this time and the streets were lined with people who wanted to see Him. Among the crowds in Jericho was a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus. He simply wanted to have a sight of Jesus. The encounter Jesus had with Zacchaeus is one of the greatest encounters that is recorded in the Bible.
Zacchaeus truly had a burning desire to see Jesus. Zacchaeus wanted more than anything to see who Jesus was. I am sure he heard a lot about Jesus and waited to see him for himself. Zacchaeus wanted to see why Jesus was different from others.
I believe you are here today because you have the desire to see Jesus. Someday someone told you about Jesus and you wanted to see for yourself who this Jesus is all about. In my experience seeing Christ once is not just enough. Once you see Him, you want to see him more, and more and more. Now we are here because we have seen and experienced the goodness of Christ again and again. I also believe when a person desires to see Jesus, Satan is at work and many obstacles may come into our way. Zacchaeus had the desire but did you ever consider the obstacles he had to overcome to see Jesus?
Obstacles Zacchaeus faced to see Jesus
Zacchaeus was a tax collector by profession. I feel being a tax collector is not a spiritual job. These people were self employed businessman. They collected tax for the Romans. The tax collectors made profit by collecting more tax from people and traders.
In Jesus’ time there were 3 kinds of taxes collected:
Now, Jericho was a good spot for a tax collector. Jericho was in-between Judea and Perea. The trade route from Jerusalem and East, as well as Egypt and Mesopotamia, passed through Jericho. Jericho became very rich because of trade and travel. Therefore, anyone traveling to Jerusalem, Bethany, Northern Israel, and Jordan had to pass through Jericho.
Now the tax collectors made money by demanding more tax than necessary. Moreover any goods that were not accompanied by documented papers were looted by the tax collectors. The tax collectors job was more or less a cheating profession. People called tax collectors unjust men.
Zacchaeus being a tax collector did not let his job remain an obstacle to see Jesus. Do not let your profession prevent you from worshipping Jesus. You may work different jobs, different shifts, you may work with nonbelievers but do not let your job or colleagues influence you. No job is worth it if it prevents us to coming to worship the Almighty God.
Zacchaeus was a wealthy man. See what Jesus said when he approached Jericho. Luke 18:24-25 24Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Therefore Zacchaeus’ money was definitely a hindrance for him to come to the Lord. I do not believe that there is anything wrong in having money. We need money to live and pay our bills but when money becomes a priority in our life then it has become an idol of our life. Money today is an obstacle for many people to come to Jesus. Would you let go your salvation for money? Jesus said in Mark 8:36-37 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Give God more priority than money.
Luke 18:3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.
Zacchaeus was a short man. His size would have prevented him from seeing Jesus. Zacchaeus would have had a hard time seeing Jesus through the crowd but he overcame that problem.
Our physical appearance or personality should not be an obstacle for us to follow Jesus. Sometimes we feel God does not want us because we are not good. God in fact wants every one – Red, yellow, black, white, short, thin tall, fat, pretty, smart, and dumb; everyone is loved and used by God.
Illustration: The father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi as a young man practicing law in South Africa became attracted to the Christian faith. He studied the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and was seriously exploring becoming a Christian and he decided to attend a church service. As Mahatma Gandhi came up the steps of the large church, a white South African elder of the church barred his way at the door. "Where do you think you're going, kaffir?" the man asked Gandhi in a belligerent tone of voice. Ghandi replied, "I'd like to attend worship here." The church elder snarled at him, "There's no room for kaffirs in this church. Get out of here or I'll have my assistants throw you down the steps."
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” said Mahatma Gandhi.
We are all equal in the sight of God. Therefore our appearance should not be a hindrance to God at City Harvest. Zacchaeus overcame his personality.
Luke 18: 3-4 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
There was great crowd present when Jesus came to Jericho and everyone wanted to see him. The streets were full, people were pushing and fighting to see Jesus. Zacchaeus had no choice. Zacchaeus finally climbed up a tree.
I believe sometimes people hinder us from seeing Christ. It may be people from our society, parents, friends, or an organization. The people around us may sometimes discourage us and take us away from Jesus. The Bible says Zacchaeus ran ahead of the crowd. If you want to see Jesus run ahead of the crowd, don’t run with the crowd.
Zacchaeus overcame four obstacles that came between him and Jesus.
Result of meeting Jesus
Luke 19:5-6 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "
Now, Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to face his betrayal and death and I love the way he dealt with Zacchaeus. In spite of what was about to happen to Jesus, He spoke to Zacchaeus, showed love and compassion, and went to his house. Jesus knows you today. He is willing to come to you today.
Luke 19:8 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."
We all have sinned at some point and fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus is able to forgive our sins and restore our relationship with him. Zacchaeus knew he sinned and he took action for his sins. It is not enough that we feel guilty and sorry, our guilt and sorry must precede with action. Zacchaeus admitted his sins and that was evident in his action - from one extreme to other extreme.
Perhaps we need a commitment today. Maybe you have once seen Jesus and gone very away from him. Let us turn back with a repentant heart and invite him back into our lives.
Luke 19:9 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
After Jesus saw the action Zacchaeus did Jesus said salvation had come to his house. Even today the same salvation is offered to us. Maybe some of you need to come to Jesus today. Maybe our family needs to know this Jesus and invite him to their lives. Jesus is always ready to offer the gift of salvation to mankind.
I believe this was not the first and last time that Zacchaeus saw Jesus. Probably Zacchaeus went to the Passover and the Pentecost festivals. Maybe Zacchaeus wanted to take a closer look at another crowd in Jerusalem where the crowd was shouting “crucify Jesus, give us Berabbas.” He perhaps saw Jesus again as he was taking the cross to Golgotha. What a change in his life. Perhaps Zacchaeus saw Jesus after he rose from the dead. Maybe Zacchaeus after years of faithful service after his death saw Jesus in heaven. I believe the one time he overcame the hurdles and met Jesus turned to be a lifetime relationship with Jesus Christ.
We cannot climb a tree but we can surely confess our sins to the Lord Jesus. Maybe you have once been in touch with Jesus and now you are far away, you can always come back to him now. What are the obstacles you are facing today? If you truly have the desire to see Jesus you can overcome every obstacles in the name of our Lord.
This sermon belongs to the series Uncategorized. Other sermons in this series: