What is stopping you?
Jesus calls Zacchaeus
Zacchaeus was a publican. That meant that he was a tax-gatherer, and he worked for Rome, the ruling power over his country. He was rich, he was despised and he was a social outcast. The people didn’t like tax-gatherers who collected taxes for a foreign country that dominated them and made a usurious profit at it. If Jesus had considered public opinion, he would never have paid attention to Zacchaeus. He must have been a lonely man, hated for his work, avoided by almost everybody in town.
Zacchaeus was curious. He wanted to see Jesus. But he had to overcome some obstacles in the way. There was a big crowd and Zacchaeus was a little fellow. To get through the crowd was almost impossible. Everybody wanted to get close to Jesus.
Many people in that day wanted to know Jesus, as many people today want to know him too. Perhaps you would like to have Jesus in your heart and to have salvation. You may be facing obstacles too.
What are some of the obstacles that you may face?
First, there’s pride. Scripture teaches that pride can keep people from Christ. The Bible says, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6). If you are to have Christ in your heart, you must humble yourself and become as a little child. You see, we’re all proud, and we don’t like to humble ourselves.
A second obstacle that may keep you from Christ is idolatry. Idolatry is sin, because whether or not we realize it, we worship ourselves and other people. The things that we have created have become gods. Sex is a god too, just as much as it was in the days of the ancient cities of Ephesus and Rome. The Scripture says idolaters, “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
A third obstacle that may keep some of you from Christ is worldliness. Jesus said, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gainthe whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give inexchange for his soul?” ((Matt.16:26). Many of you are selling your soul for a little bit of this world. But suppose you had all the oil, all the gold, all the diamonds, all the wealth of the whole world, and lost your soul. You would say, “It isn’t worth it.” Yet how many of you are willing to lose your souls for just a little bit of it?
The Bible says, “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4). That word “world” means a world system dominated by evil.
Friendship with that means enmity with God. The Bible says, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.”(2 Cor.6:17). We are to be separated from the evils of the world.
A fourth obstacle that keeps people from accepting Jesus Christ is secret sins. The Psalmist prayed, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12). The Bible says, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” (Psalm 90:8). “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing.” (Ecc.12:14). You can keep no secrets from God. God knows about your sins, so that at the Day of Judgment, when you try to defend yourself, you will have no defense. You have secret sins, and you know what they are. You have been battling with the hidden person in your heart. Confess your secret sins to Christ. Come to the cross and bring those secrets of your heart and lay them before him and say, “Lord, here they are. I surrender.”
A fifth obstacle that keeps people from Christ is self-righteousness. “There is a generation,” the Bible it says, “that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Pro.30:12). We are pure in our own eyes, we are patting ourselves on the backs, we say we are good when actually we continue to sin and break God’s laws. Self-righteousness keeps us from Christ.
Now, we have looked at some obstacles. Let’s look at Jesus. His is a personal call. Jesus called Zacchaeus by name. Because Zacchaeus was short in stature, he had climbed a sycamore tree and was out on the limb sitting there, watching Jesus. All of a sudden Zacchaeus, one of the most unpopular men in town, heard his name called-by Jesus.
Can you imagine how startled he was? Out of all that crowd, out of all those religious leaders, Zacchaeus, considered the worst sinner in town, was called by name.
The Bible-says Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who “calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” (John 10:3). In Genesis we read that God came into the Garden of Eden personally to call Adam.
Later he called Abraham and Jacob and Moses and Joshua. When the Lord Jesus Christ came, he called his disciples by name, and they followed him.
Jesus calls you by name. He knows your name. He knows all about you and he calls you. He says, “I want to come into your heart. You need me to help you, to forgive you, to take you to heaven. Come to me.”
It is an urgent call. Jesus said, “Zacchaeus make haste.”
And that’s what he says to you: “Hurry! Make haste!”
If you are going to come to Christ, come now. Nowhere does the Bible promise that tomorrow you can be saved. It’s today. Today he is urgently calling you by name.
And Zacchaeus did make haste.
Do you know what he did? He didn’t wait to climb down the tree. He jumped.
Receiving Jesus Christ involves an act of faith beyond mere human reason. The Bible says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor.2:14).” In other words, a person cannot reason his way into the Kingdom of God.
I don’t imagine Zacchaeus sat down and went through all the philosophical and theological debates about Jesus. He just joyfully followed him by faith, and Jesus received him and forgave him.
Jesus Christ is knocking on your heart’s door.
He is asking you to receive him.
Are you a sinner?
Have you broken God’s law?
I’m a sinner. I deserve judgment and hell, but I’m going to heaven because of Jesus Christ. I have received Christ. I have come to the cross, and he has forgiven my sin.
I have eternal life, and I know that I’m saved. If Jesus Christ should come back today, I’m ready.
Are you ready?
(Source: DECISION, October, 1980)