God wants to Motivate Others – Going out on a Limb for Jesus
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ “
8But 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.”
9Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 19:1-10 NIV
I read recently about a fitness center that was offering $1,000 to anyone who could demonstrate that they were stronger than the owner of the place.
Here’s how it worked. This muscle man of a business owner would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and then hand the lemon to the next challenger. Anyone who could squeeze just one more drop of juice out would win the money.
Many people tried over time; humongous weightlifters and bodybuilders, construction workers, even professional wrestlers, but nobody could do it.
One day a short and skinny guy with glasses came in and signed up for the contest. After the laughter died down, the owner grabbed a lemon and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains to the little man.
The crowd’s laughter turned to silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and quickly six drops fell into the glass. The crowd began to cheer and the manager paid out the winning prize. After giving the prize to this unexpected contest winner, he and asked the short guy what he did for a living. “Are you a lumberjack, a weightlifter, or what?”
The man smiled as he fixed his glasses, “I work for the IRS.”
It’s tough to be honest during tax time isn’t it? Here’s an actual letter that was received by the IRS a few years ago:
“Enclosed you will find a check for $150. I cheated on my income tax return last year and have not been able to sleep ever since. If I still have trouble sleeping I will send you the rest.”
Today’s verses focus on a high-ranking IRS man (In Zacchaeus case, IRS, meant I’m Rich and Short) who cheated not on his tax returns, but on everyone else’s. He had figured out a way to skim some money off the top and squeeze the last drop from people’s wallets. His name was Zacchaeus. While Zacchaeus sin may be more public than mine, the truth is ALL of us are like Zacchaeus. All are sinners. All are in need of a Savior. When Jesus came through town, Zacchaeus was there to meet Him. Zacchaeus teaches me a some very important lessons about coming to Jesus.
Going out on a limb for Jesus
Although Zacchaeus was a rich man and probably very dignified for his day, he knew that he wanted to see Jesus. No matter the cost. It didn’t matter to him what people said, whether they laughed at him, ridiculed him, or talked about him. He was determined to see Jesus. I need to be determined to see Jesus as well.
As I think of Zacchaeus, I realize that the church would be so much more influential and filled with so much more power if only there were more believers, including myself, who don’t mind being laughed at and ridiculed if what they did helped them to see Jesus better. There would be so much more power in the church if believers threw caution into the wind and were desperate to see Jesus, no matter what other people say or think.
Too many times I shy away from being more bold in my pursuit of Christ because I fear offending other people or because I don’t want to appear to be a “fanatic” or to appear like a religious nut.
Zacchaeus reminds me of the importance of being willing to go out on a limb to meet Jesus.
Welcoming Jesus to into your house
When they encounter each other, Jesus invited Himself over to Zacchaeus’ house! Zacchaeus was quick to make room for Jesus to come into his home.
Jesus invites Himself over to my house too. Unfortunately, too many times I want Jesus to see me at church, but I haven’t let Him come to my house. I want Him to see me in my “Sunday best”, and not my “Monday worst.” I want Him to see me when I sing praises to Him at church on Sunday morning, but not when I come home tired from a long day of work on a Tuesday and am just a plain old grouch. I want Him to see me paying attention to a church sermon on Sunday, but I don’t want Him to see me arguing with my wife over stupid things on a Wednesday. I want Him to see me greeting His people at church, but I don’t want Him to see me getting impatient with my kids on Thursday or slacking off at work on Friday! I FORGET THAT GOD SEES ME ANYWAYS!
Zacchaeus allowed Jesus to come into his home and that change things. I’d be wise to let Jesus come into my house and changes things too.
A radical commitment to change
If Zacchaeus had spent time with Jesus, said a “sinner’s prayer”, and let it end there, people would have called him a hypocrite. If he simply sat with Jesus for dinner (on Sunday?), but did not change the way he was living his life, the murmurs of the people in verse 7, would have been proven right.
Zacchaeus however, teaches me one more lesson about coming to Jesus. He teaches me not to let my commitment to Jesus end with inviting Him into my home and my heart. Zacchaeus teaches me that when Jesus comes into my life, I must have a radical commitment to change. When I experience a real change of heart, it is ALWAYS reflected in my actions. Whenever someone truly encounters Jesus, they are radically changed. The truth is, if I have never been changed from the time that I got “saved”, maybe I have never been saved to begin with.
God uses my experiences to motivate others.
Like with Zacchaeus, God wants to use the experiences I have gone through to motivate others. The experiences Zacchaeus had, showed all the others around him (who started of murmuring) that there was hope for sinners who had strayed from God. That is what God wants to say through my life too. He wants to use my experiences to motivate others to change. After all, if Jesus could use and redeem the IRS, couldn’t He use and redeem you too?
Rick Warren says…
“When you go on a roller coaster that you’ve never been on, it’s comforting when the guy in front of you in line says, ‘This is a great ride. I’ve been on it five times.’ You realize that you’re going to live. If the guy in front of you lived, you’ll probably live too. That’s encouraging!”
Lord Jesus use my experiences to draw others to You. Use everything that I have been through to motivate others to come into a saving and transforming relationship with You. Amen.