By CRAIG HARRIS
Luke 19: 1-10 (NIV): Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' " 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." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
Jesus was passing through Jericho to go to Jerusalem where he would be crucified. This, then, was the last time he would pass that way. We never know when it is the last time we have a chance to encounter him. We never know what day may be our last or when he is coming back.
Zacchaeus didn't let the crowd keep him from seeing Jesus. He was short so he had to take an extra measure to see him. It is interesting that because he was short and climbed the tree, he caught Jesus' attention. If he had been just another face in the crowd, standing by the road, Jesus may not have noticed him. God has a reason for everything he does. He never makes mistakes. If you feel you are too short, God has a reason for it. Whatever your circumstance, God has a reason for it even though you may never understand it this side of heaven.
The good news of this story is that Jesus is a friend of sinners. He called Zacchaeus by name and told him he wanted to fellowship with him. Zacchaeus was saved because he obeyed and welcomed him. When he met Jesus, he believed in him. His actions (giving half his wealth to the poor) didn't save him, but it proved that he had been saved. Our actions prove our salvation in the same way.
Do whatever it takes to see Jesus. And when he calls your name, welcome him and discover that eternal life with Christ is far greater than riches.
Craig Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek United Methodist Church in Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church in Pert. Sunday services are at 9:30 at Brushy Creek and 11:00 at Pert. See more of his columns at www.instantmessagelive.com