Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, November 7th. There's more to the story of Jesus in Zacchaeus than a sycamore tree. Learn some practical lessons from encountering Jesus on the Jericho Road. One of the most difficult things we have to do as saved people is to be honest about the condition of people we love whom we know have never received Jesus Christ as their Savior. And sometimes a wife will say, now, I know my husband is not saved the way you think he ought to be, but he's saved in his own way, or a mother may say, now, I know my son's not what he ought to be, but, and so they try to rationalize the fact that even though they've never received Jesus Christ as their Savior, somehow, in some way, because it's her son, that's going to make an exception. I want to tell you, my friend, blood relationship has nothing to do with whether a person is saved or lost. What makes the difference is their own personal, private relationship with Jesus Christ. And as we open this word today, I want you to just be honest, if you will, about folks that you know have never received Christ as their Savior, and some of you, maybe many of you.
Here is a story in the gospel of Luke, an incident that happened in the life of Jesus that says something about the whole conversion experience. In Luke chapter 19 is the story that most kids learn in Sunday school about Zacchaeus, and that's one of those stories they know because he was a fella up a tree. The Bible says, and when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, he heard him come down, for today I must come or rest awhile or stay awhile at your house, and he, listen, he hurried and came down. He didn't make excuses, he just came down. The Bible says when he came down that everybody around said, can you imagine that? This fella, he doesn't know what we know.
If he knew what we knew, he would be the last fella in Jericho that he would take one minute of time with. So while they're complaining and so forth, the Bible says that Zacchaeus comes down and receives Jesus Christ's glad, and listen, there's one thing that you and I will never know till we stand in the presence of heaven, and that's what some of these people experience that you and I will never experience till we get to heaven. Can you imagine being blind and never having seen and opening your eyes, and the first thing you see is the eyes of God and human flesh. Can you imagine feeling rejected, disowned, full of disillusionment in life, knowing that everything you had done and everything you had tried to accomplish really didn't bring in a real sense of peace and satisfaction, and you are an absolute outcast socially.
Nobody cared. The quicker you died, the better for society, and all of a sudden, God comes along and looks up and says, come on down right now because I'm going home with you. Can you imagine the unforgettable, life-changing, eternal experience of looking into the eyes of Jesus Christ? Zacchaeus, a wealthy Israelite who was a traitor to his own nation, had that privilege. Many people were around Jesus. Not a lot of people had the privilege of looking right into his eyes and seeing God in that man's face. Well, the Scripture says that as soon as he hit the ground and received the Lord Jesus Christ joyfully, they began to grumble and complain and mourn and groan, and they said, he's going to be the guest of a sinner.
You know what? That immediately became the number one scandal in Jericho, pass the word along. He's going home to be with Zacchaeus.
There are many more people respectable. Can you imagine him going home with Zacchaeus? Well, on the way, then get very far, Zacchaeus stopped. The Scripture says that he said to him, Lord, half of my possessions, and this is in the present tense, half of my possessions, which is his way of saying the decisions made right and a half of my possessions, I'm giving to the poor. I'm not going to future tense, I'm giving to the poor. Not only that, he says, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I am giving it back four times as much. Now, look at that part. That is, he's not thinking, well, now, if I could possibly think, if there's any possible way that I have mistaken and taken too much, no, when he said, if I have caught up in the joy of being forgiven, listen, can you imagine, I mean, for the first time in a long time, somebody has accepted this old boy. Somebody has said to him, come down, I want to go home with you. I desire to be with you.
I want to accept you and love you and forgive you and make you a part of my relationship. So the law required, number one, if he had taken anything wrong, he had to give all of it back plus at least 20%. Some things that they would steal, they'd have to give everything they took plus 50%. But listen what he says, he says, I'm giving half of what I own to the poor. And he says, whatever I've taken, I'm going to give back four times. Now Jesus said to him, this is his way of affirming.
He says, today's salvation has come to this house. Now with that in mind, I want to draw some very precious lessons out of this chapter. And I want you to go back, if you will, first of all to that first verse there and notice what happens.
It says in Jesus entered and was passing through Jericho and behold, there was a man called Zacchaeus. Now, listen to me. First thing I want you to notice is this friend, you can't ever get too bad, too evil, too wicked for Jesus Christ to save you. It doesn't make any difference what you've done.
It doesn't make any difference where you've been. It doesn't make any difference how you, how rejected you feel by God. I want to tell you something, that rejection isn't coming from God, it's coming from within.
That is Satan telling you God wouldn't have you, God would have no part of that. God couldn't accept you. You could never go to heaven. There is no chance of your being saved. No way for you to be forgiven.
Your guilt will ride you all the way to the grave. I want to tell you, that's never come from God. Friend, Jesus Christ accepted Zacchaeus exactly the way he was, traitor, disobedient, rebel, egotistical, arrogant, proud, thief, extortionist. He took him just like he was, right where he was, right up the tree. And if the real truth were known, many of you are probably saying today, that's about the way I feel. I'm up a tree, can't get down, don't feel worthy, don't believe God could ever forgive me, don't think there's any hope for me whatsoever. And I want to tell you, my friend, there isn't anything you can ever do and still want to be saved and God not save you. If you want to be saved, if you want to change in your life, if you want God to accept you, if you want a whole new beginning, you can have it here and now if you're just willing to do something that Zacchaeus did. One thing I want you to notice here is this, that oftentimes people say, well, you know, I'm not going to be saved now, but I'm going to be saved at home because I've got lots of time.
My friend, nobody knows how much time they have. If Zacchaeus here had not taken the opportunity of seeing Jesus the day he passed by, he would never have seen him again because you see, Jesus was on his way through Jericho to Jerusalem before the trial, to the cross, to his death and Zacchaeus would never have seen him again. Let me ask you this, are you one of those persons who sit home week after week and watch the television or you listen to the radio and you think, love to hear all these preachers. In fact, I was talking to someone not long ago and I mean, they could quote this preaching, this preaching, this preaching, they like this one the way this one does this, the way the other one does that, just as lost as he can be. Let me tell you something, my friend. Every time you turn it on, whether it's the radio or the television and you hear the gospel truth presented, you're having an opportunity to be saved, but I want to tell you something, those opportunities won't last forever because you see, one of these days you're going to turn it on and you're going to hear the gospel message and your intention is to hear it again next Sunday, makes you feel good.
One of these days you're going to turn it on, you're going to turn it off and him off and you're not ever going to have the opportunity to turn it on again because you will have turned him off for eternity. Third thing I want you to notice about the scripture and that's this, that how much hangs oftentimes on insignificant events, now watch this. Here is Zacchaeus trying to get through the crowd, nobody let him through, elbowing him every chance they get to give him a good one, that's not where they can get back for the taxes. And so what he does, he runs ahead and more than likely thinking, well I want to see this man, so he gets the idea watching the kids who are hanging up in the trees, if they can do that I can do it, so just that little flitting thought comes through his mind and he decides to climb a tree. Now I'll bet if we knew Zacchaeus hadn't climbed a tree in a long, long time, that wasn't his thing climbing trees, but today he was going to climb one.
It was just that little thought that passed his mind, if I really want to see him there's a way I can't, I'm going to climb the tree and I'm going to see him. And the decision to climb the tree made the difference between eternal life and eternal separation from God. Let me ask you something, when you're just going about your daily work or whatever you may be doing and once in a while you just feel so impressed that God is saying something to you, what do you do, do you sort of deposit that in the account for tomorrow, do you sort of brush that aside and say, well that's probably just the feeling I'm getting, right, it is a feeling, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, pricking your conscience, stinging you on the inside to say, I want your attention, listen to me, listen to me now before it's too late, listen now, or do you just brush that aside and say, later, because you see hell is going to be filled with people who said, later, not today, tomorrow, not now, later. Then I want you to notice something here in verse 5, it says when Jesus came that way, what did he do, he just stopped, listen, Jesus is on his way, listen, Jesus is on his way to die for the world. In fact this is the final journey before the cross, he was not in too big a hurry to heal blind Bartimaeus and he wasn't in too big of a hurry to stop and say to Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus, come down, I'm going home to be with you today and here's what I want you to remember, listen to me, you may be sitting in a lonely apartment and you think the four walls are coming in on you or you look around you and you've lost your wife or your husband, your kids have turned their back on you and everywhere you turn you just see emptiness and loneliness and frustration and fear and hopelessness. Let me tell you something, don't ever forget this, if you will take one little teeny itsy bitsy little step toward the Lord Jesus Christ, he doesn't take much, just a little, you know what he'll do, he will respond and reach out to you my friend and take you right where you are, he will listen to your cry, he will listen to your plea, he will hear what you say, he will forgive you of your sin, he will bring about a new birth in your life, he'll give you a new spirit, a new outlook on life and my friend he will live within you from this moment on, he will walk with you until he calls you home and forever he will spend eternity with you. That's what Jesus will do, he saw Zacchaeus and he knew when he saw Zacchaeus that Zacchaeus had made the first step, he climbed the tree, he said Zacchaeus come on down, I'm going home with you and I want to tell you something, if you'll let him today he says behold I stand at the door of your apartment or your palatial home or your shack, he says behold I stand at the door, Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart, of your life, even right this very moment all he wants you to do is to open the door and let him in, you see he's not going to force the door, he wants you to take the initiative to say Lord Jesus, you say I don't know how to pray, all you got to do is say oh God I need you, I'm hopelessly and helplessly lost and Lord I need you, will you help me and I want to tell you my friend he will, he'll always respond if you will just reach out in any form of fashion to ask for his help, listen also to what he says, he says when he came to that place that Jesus looked up and said Zacchaeus, now I can imagine that when Zacchaeus is up in the tree he thought he was pretty well hit among all the leaves because the sycamore trees had big leaves and Jesus looked up and he looked right through that, he said Zacchaeus I see you there, come on down right now, I'm going home with you, once in a while my friend you may feel like here I am in my apartment, here I am in my house, nobody knows where I am, nobody understands my problem, nobody sees where I am, nobody knows my hurt, nobody feels my anxiety, nobody knows my loneliness, nobody knows my helplessness and I want to tell you something, a sure jeweler as Jesus Christ said to Zacchaeus, I see you Zacchaeus, I see you, come on down, with a lot of people up the tree and Jesus says come down, we say, I would come down but I can't let go, I can't let go of what, well you know I have a position and I have wealth and I have fame and fortune and I have this and I have that and sometimes it isn't any of that, it's old self, it's old pride, old stinking pride, me come down, me walk a church aisle, me get on my knees, me bow my head, nothing doing, I want to tell you something my friend, that no man will ever go up who has not first been willing to come down, never, my friend let me ask you a question, you think that you're going up without first coming down, there's not one verse in this Bible that says you will because the Bible says, God shall humble the proud, he will exalt those who humble themselves but he shall humble, he shall humble the proud, you think that you're going to be saved before coming down, all of us have had to come down and I want to ask you my friend, are you lost today, are you out of the kingdom and are you one of those persons who's maybe come to the point of wringing your hands because you've been too proud to say, oh God, I do need this Christ and I do need his shed blood upon my soul and I thought I had outgrown all of that and my intellectual pride had lifted me above that but I do think maybe that's what I need, I want to tell you, presidents, kings, emperors and the most poverty-stricken alive needs the same blood of Jesus Christ applied to the human heart, that's the only way to get up, first of all you got to be willing to come down, you see what you have to ask is this, what is it that I'm holding to that I am unwilling to give up, I want to tell you my friend that you're up the tree and Jesus is saying, you can't come down as long as you've got a vice-like grip on the branches, you've got to be willing to let go and that's exactly what Zacchaeus did, the Bible says that he hurried and came down and received him gladly, now let me tell you something, Jesus says I came into the world first of all to seek out and to rescue those who are in spiritual, eternal danger and I want to ask you, have you ever received Jesus Christ as your Savior, if not you are a dead person spiritually, physically alive, living in imminent danger and Jesus Christ is saying to you today, I want to rescue you from your unsaved, dangerous condition that you have to be willing to come down confessing and repenting and surrendering your life to Jesus Christ and that is my plea to you my friend with all of my heart through this precious book, the blood of Jesus Christ was shed 2000 years ago on an old Roman cross for you and for me and I want to invite you before it is eternally too late, while you have the time to do it, allow God to forgive you, to cleanse you, to save you, to free you, to liberate you, to accept you, to make you one of his own and to give you a brand new life.
If you are willing to cry out to him, I can guarantee you this, everything in this book bears witness to the fact, if you will cry out to him, he will respond to your cry and forgive you and cleanse you and make you one of his children. Thank you for listening to Encountering Jesus on the Jericho Road. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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