Part 4

May 3, 2020


Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1JOHN 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”


As we ended our study last week, we were learning about Zacchaeus, a man who was fortunate enough to have Our Lord and Savior, as a guest in his home! It was also highly likely that Zacchaeus might have been a part of that crowd, waiting to see Our Lord pass by on His Way to His Crucifixion. Our Lord’s interaction with Zacchaeus had quickly changed the atmosphere amongst the crowd at Jericho, from praise to protests, as we see in LUK 19:1-10 (The Message Bible): Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?” Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.” Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”


Notice, it was not Zacchaeus who invited Jesus to his house. He was just trying to see Our Lord, and maybe wanted to avoid the crowd as well. They did not like tax-gatherers, and he was the “the head tax man and quite rich.” Jesus looked up into the tree and saw Zacchaeus. He knew this man’s name, and called him by it, and then invited Himself to his house. Zacchaeus was thrilled, of course, but the crowds were very unhappy about it. The reason for their unhappiness was that they considered Zacchaeus to be a great sinner — and he was. We all are. Although not likely expected to be one of Christ’s converts, Zacchaeus had heard much about Him, and was determined to see Him for himself. When Our Savior came his way, this rich tax gatherer had two obstacles in his way—the crowd, and his being short. But he quickly overcame both obstacles. Those in the crowd, who were so enthusiastic about Christ, were the very people blocking Zacchaeus’ view. And the crowd did not like the attention that Our Lord showed him. They were sinners, too, but they were oblivious to it. They needed to FORGIVE Zacchaeus like Jesus did.


This sort of thing happens so much in our lives. Think about all the people you come across that you judge for one reason or another. You must be mindful of these times in your life and remember the story of Zacchaeus because there is so much to learn from his encounter with Jesus Christ. Do not make a judgment based on someone’s actions or how a person looks. The sin of judging others is far too common, especially in today’s world.  Also, do not make a judgment based on someone’s reputation. People get a good or a bad reputation – not only because of the lives they have lived – but also by the RUMORS that have been spread about them. When you hear something negative about someone, be like Our Lord and Savior and withhold judgment! Being filled with The Spirit (rebound) will help you with that. So, will learning God’s Word and applying it to your life. Practicing not being judgmental will effect a change, too!


Jesus Christ chose to associate with (and to bring Salvation to) this man who had a reputation for being a sinner. Some of the people in the crowd were angry and judgmental toward Zacchaeus because they did not see themselves as being just like he was, with sins of their own. Look at the message Our Lord has for people like them in this cool translation of MATT 7:1-5 taken from The Message Bible: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”


Jesus Christ came to earth for everyone – including those whom others may not like. It did not matter to Our Lord and Savior if Zacchaeus was seemingly unworthy or that he had a sinful reputation. What could be better news than that?? What could make you want to know Him more, once you have learned that? Zacchaeus sought Jesus and got closer to him than he had even dreamed he could. This is what Our Lord said on the subject: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (MAT:7-8 New International Version)


The crowd that day was full of people whose lives Our Savior touched during His Ministry on earth. Maybe the lepers were there. We learn about their encounter with Him in LUK 17:11-19 (The Message Bible): It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”


The lepers had been healed from a very horrible disease and maybe now all ten were in that crowd, rejoicing for the healing they had received from Our Lord, days earlier. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were in the crowd, to support The Man Who had raised Lazarus from the dead. And Mary Magdalene was there, too. Imagine the incredible love so many of the people, in the crowd that day, had to have had in their hearts for The Lord Jesus Christ! He had taught them and molded them and changed their lives immensely.


There were also sinister faces in that crowd. Faces with squinty eyes, waiting for Jesus Christ to say one wrong word – to make one wrong move. The Sadducees and Pharisees were there. They were supposed to be keepers of the law – spiritual leaders. But Jesus had gained so much popularity that they felt extremely threatened. So, with hearts full of jealousy and distrust, they watched Him.


The Romans were there, too, fearing revolt and watching for any sign of rebellion against Rome. They were ready and waiting to crush any uprising. Jesus Christ knew that soon the sinister voices would drown out the voices of love. He knew that those crying for Him to be king, would soon be crying, “Crucify Him!” or would simply watch and say nothing.


As Jesus traveled along the road from the Mount of Olives, across the brook, toward the gate of the city, with the crowds flocking around Him, do you wonder how the apostles were reacting to all of this? Judas was probably ecstatic – because he may have wanted an earthly Kingdom more than any of the others. Peter no doubt walked with his chest puffed out – enjoying the crowds of people and the cheering. He may have even had one hand on his sword just in case something went wrong. Maybe the apostle Thomas was there, a bit skeptical about everything that was going on – wondering what was going to happen next. If Andrew was there, he might have been overwhelmed by it all. He was so used to bringing people to Jesus one by one, or in small groups – and would never have seen so many people with Our Savior all at once!


What about James and John? Do you suppose they were thinking about Jesus being crowned King, so that they could be in positions of authority and power?

{to be continued}

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