Close Encounters: Part 8

It is amazing at the things in the hunting woods that God can use to bring to your mind that comes from the Holy Scriptures. I have a turkey hunting trip planned in Kansas next week that I am preparing for mentally. There is one particular spot on my hunting ground there that I can’t wait to be setup on during my first morning hunt. All this week I have been thinking about this particular wood line of sycamores that run along a river and the edge of a CRP field. I have killed multiple long beards from this location but one in particular stands out the most. I remember passing by this line of sycamore trees early one morning and having a gobbler fire off very close by. I quickly sat down and could see the gobbler only 40 yards away on his roosting position in one of those giant sycamores. How he did not see me I will never know. Watching him strut and gobble on that sycamore limb was an awesome thing to witness. I could have easily shot him out of the tree but I was patient. I later called him down and immediately shot him after only taking a few steps. This is one of those hunting memories that I will never forget.

You may be thinking, “What does that have to do with the Bible or in particular, a close encounter with the Lord?” As soon as the sycamore tree passed through my mind I immediately thought of Zacchaeus and his close encounter with Jesus. In this story a man named Zacchaeus came to see Jesus. He later, because he was a short man and could not see over the crowd, climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. We later see Jesus calling to Zacchaeus for him to come down to meet Him. I cannot help but laugh at the parallel in these two stories (my hunting story and the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus.) However, this was a close encounter with the Lord that this man named Zacchaeus will never forgot.

Look with me into one of my favorite stories in the Bible. There are many other parallels that our Lord wants you to see and many lessons that He wants you to learn from this story. As you read this story allow the Holy Spirit to open your mind and your heart to God’s Word. As we explore this text put yourself in the crowd as Jesus is coming onto the scene. Put yourself in a place where you can see and hear Jesus and Zacchaeus’ story unfold.

Text: Luke 19:1-10 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 (crowd), because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore 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 today I must abide at thy house. 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 quest 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.

When Jesus Passes By: He Saves the Unsaveable

According to this text, when Jesus passed by Salvation came to the worst sinner. Today, when Jesus passes by He still brings Salvation to the worst people. This story illustrates how the worst sinners in the world can be saved. So no matter how bad you think you are, when Jesus passes by, He can bring Salvation to you as well.

I. In this story we see a Chief Sinner being introduced. (1-2)
A. He was introduced Personally.
1. A man named Zacchaeus
2. In Hebrew “Zak-kah-ee” means pure.
B. He was introduced as a Publican.
1. He was a Chief Tax Collector.
a. The tax collectors of that day were looked upon as the worst sinners in the world.
b. Today we may call prostitutes, murders, rapists, and even politicians and lawyers including other evil
people of our day the worst sinners in the world. But to them it was the tax collectors.
c. Being a chief tax collector made him the worst of the worst of sinners.
2. He was a Roman.
a. Romans were despised by the people of that day. They ruled over the people with an iron fist and took
whatever they pleased.
b. So being a chief tax collector and Roman made this guy the scum of the earth in the eyes of the Jews.
3. He was Rich.
a. Zacchaeus was turned into a very rich man by taking advantage of the Jewish people in particular and
any others who were living in that province.
b. This made the Jews hate and despise him even more.

II. In this story we see a Convicted Sinner in need of a Savior. (3-4)
A. Zacchaeus had a longing desire to see Jesus.
1. We see him Running. (It is time to start running toward Jesus instead of away from Him.)
2. We see him Climbing. (It is time to start climbing toward Jesus instead of away from Him.)
3. We see him Looking. (It is time to start looking toward Jesus instead of away from Him.)
* Do you have a longing desire to meet with Jesus?
B. Jesus had a longing desire to see Zacchaeus.
1. As Zacchaeus was making his way to Jesus, Jesus was already making His way toward him.
2. As Zacchaeus was climbing up a tree, Jesus was climbing through the crowd.
3. As Zacchaeus was looking toward Jesus, he found out that Jesus was already looking toward him.
* If you have a longing desire to meet with Jesus, it is because He has already had a longing desire to meet you.

III. We see a Converted Sinner after an invitation. (5-7)
A. Jesus first gives a Commanding Invitation.
* “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down”
1. We see a Picture of Jesus’ Rule.
a. His Lordship
b. His Authoritative Command
2. We see a Picture of Zacchaeus’ Reverence.
a. His Worship
b. He Obediently Came Down
B. Jesus second gives a Compelling Invitation.
* “For today I must abide at thy house”
1. Here we see the Urgency in the call of Salvation.
2. Here we see the Residency in the call of Salvation.
C. We now see Zacchaeus Receiving Salvation.
1. Salvation is not just something or some event it is someone, Jesus.
2. Love is not just an emotion it is a person, Jesus.
3. Truth is not just some thoughts, truth is a person named Jesus.
* This is What or Who Zacchaeus received and so can you.
* You can come to Jesus all you want, but salvation only can come when Jesus comes to you.
* You can invite Jesus all you want, but salvation only can come when Jesus gives the invitation.
* Salvation is simple. When He comes to you, you go to Him. When He calls out to you, you humbly answer
“Yes Lord.” When He gives the invitation to you, you simply and gladly receive Him.

IV. We see Confirmation of Salvation, he was indeed saved. (8-10)
A. Notice Zacchaeus’ immediate change of spirit.
1. He had an awareness of his past sin and wrong doings.
2. He offered to give Jesus half of his goods and to pay back 4 times over what he had taken from the people.
B. Notice Jesus’ immediate clamming statement.
1. He had an affirmation that all his past sin has been forgiven.
2. Jesus Himself said surly salvation has come to Zacchaeus.
* It is only through the conviction and confirmation of Jesus that you can know that you know that you are saved!

Here is another simple outline of this text to help you see the full picture in this story:
I. We see a Picture of a Sinner (Zacchaeus the publican)
II. We see a the Position of a Sinner (Little Stature)
III. We see the Prerequisite of Salvation (Jesus had to pass by)
IV. We see the Place for the Sinner (A place he knew Jesus would pass by)
V. We see the Peace of the Savior received. (He was received joyfully.)
VI: We also see the Poking and Prodding of the Scoffers. (Notice what “they say” and what “they saw”.)
VII. We also see the Proof of Salvation. (There was evidence)
a. Evidence from the saved (Conviction)
b. Evidence from the Savior (Confirmation)

I pray that this story of Zacchaeus’ close encounter with the Lord and the little outline that followed will help you see some things about yourself and about God that you may never have seen before. Just remember no matter how bad of a person you think you are, when Jesus passes by, He can make a difference in your heart. “The Son (That’s Jesus) is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” If you are lost today listen for His call and make Him your Lord and Savior today.

God Bless and Happy Hunting.

Posted by Mark Newell

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