A Pastoral Letter - 3 November 2019
A little man meets a big God
by Revd. David GrobbelaarA little man meets a big God 3 November 2019
There is a wonderful old All Saints’ Day joke about the two brothers who lied, cheated, and stole from people in the little town in which they lived. They both became very wealthy. When one of the brothers died, the other brother went to the local preacher and said, “I want my brother to have a nice funeral. I want you to deliver the eulogy, and I want to tell people that he was a saint. If you do that, if you’ll just say that he was a saint, I’ll donate a large sum of money to the church in his name. But if you don’t, you can kiss that money goodbye.”
The minister struggled with that request, wanting to maintain her integrity, but very much aware of what good the money could do. The day of the funeral the minister began her eulogy this way: “Mr. Smith, was a liar, he was a cheat, he was a thief, and he was a fraud. But compared to his brother, he was a real saint.”
Zacchaeus was not brought to Christ by hardship or want, for he was very rich. What then brought him to Christ? In verse three we see that “he had a great curiosity to see Jesus.”
Two things stood between Zacchaeus and the realization of his curiosity – His own stature and the crowd. When faced with this difficulty, Zacchaeus had a choice between dropping his curiosity and seeking a way to overcome his obstacles.
Let us briefly consider these two obstacles and see how they are obstacles that today prevent us from having a full view of Jesus Christ.
1. The Self:
Here Zacchaeus himself was his own obstacle. Many people today are prevented from seeing Christ by their own selves. In Zacchaeus it was shortness. In yours it may be self-will, pursuit of position and wealth, for some it may be desire to reach the top in education, in others it may be own wisdom or pride. Paul says that the preaching of the Gospel is to the Greek, foolishness and to the Jews a stumbling block. To some so-called wise men today, it is too foolish to be true and reasonable. Look inwards today and see what your obstacle is. I once made an Altar call. I saw one girl in the crowd struggling with herself. She was convinced she needs Christ, but pride and what people would say nearly denied her of salvation. Are you in that shoe? Imitate Zacchaeus today and you will be saved. He overcame his difficulty – up the sycamore tree he went and became taller than all the rest! If we would see Jesus we too must scramble higher than ourselves. It may not be easy, but it can be done. It costs to be saved, at least your ego.
2. The Crowd:
The irony of it is that the same crowd that was enthusiastic about Christ was an obstacle that blocked Zacchaeus’ view. Dear Christian Brother and sister are you blocking another person’s view of Christ? If you are not allowing the light of Christ in you to shine, how do you hope they will see Christ? Many of us are unaware of the unconscious influence we exert on people. If you don’t know it, more people are watching you than you can ever imagine. I am sure that that was what Paul realised when he wrote to the Corinthians in 8:9-13:
“Be careful however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin. Do you realize that many have either come to Christ or rejected Him because of your life? Zacchaeus would not have seen Jesus if he depended on the crowd.
On the other hand, if Jesus Himself had heeded the reaction of the crowd, He would have passed without noticing Zacchaeus there on the sycamore tree. The action of Christ typifies the action of God to the sinner. If God were to depend on the comments you and I pass on anybody before He accepts the one into His Kingdom, many will not be saved. But thanks to God that He acts independent of our recommendation.
Zacchaeus action tells us that those who sincerely desire to see Christ must use the proper means for gaining a sight of Him. They must forget their gravity, their immediate obstacles and raise themselves to a sight of Christ.
Answering the Call
In verses 5-6, Jesus took notice of the efforts of Zacchaeus and therefore gave him a further call to acquaintance. When you made the first brace of your sin and came to Christ for cleansing, He invited you to a closer fellowship. He made you joint heirs with Him of His Father’s Kingdom. So is the magnanimity of God’s love and in v.6 Christ invited Himself to the home of Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus’ ambition when he climbed the tree was to see Jesus, but here Jesus invited Him to eat with Him, converse with Him and share his all with Him. Christ blessed him and made him a blessing to others. He said “Hurry down Zacchaeus because I must stay in your house today”, and Zacchaeus welcomed Him with great joy. Did you notice that Christ called him by name? So does God call every believer by name? Christ here was saying what He later revealed to John in Revelation 3:20 “If any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in.” Zacchaeus opened and Christ came. Jesus called Zacchaeus, saved him and made him a disciple.
Two birds were once perched on a tree branch and they were both singing. One was singing “I love you, I love you”; and the other would reply “show it, show it!” When Moses came down from the mount in Exodus 32:26, he said “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me” If you are saved, show it by your change of life. Paul said to the Corinthians “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation; old things have passed away, all things have become new.” Zacchaeus showed the completeness of his salvation by three actions:
(a) He publicly declared for Christ;
(b) He abandoned his old life for a new life and
(c) And making restitution where it is necessary.
The Zacchaeus story is not a story about repentance leading to salvation. This is a story about grace.
Date Added: 2019-10-31