“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.”” (Luke 19: 9-10 NIV).
Salvation is a free gift of God that is available to all. It is by grace through the exercise of faith in Jesus Christ. (See Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus Christ spent about three years preaching the message of salvation, teaching the word of God, and doing miraculous deeds. He could not be everywhere during those three years. He had to prioritize his schedule so that he could do the most good for most people.
In the chronology of events as recorded in Luke chapter 19, Jesus was going to Jerusalem. It would be his last visit to Jerusalem where he would be crucified on the cross to save all mankind. On his way, he entered Jericho. He did not intend to stay in Jericho; he was merely passing through. As was usually the case, news about him had spread everywhere and a crowd of people were waiting to catch a glimpse of him, listen to his teachings, or benefit from, or watch his miracles.
Among those in the crowd to see Jesus was Zacchaeus, a wealthy chief tax collector. Zacchaeus had a height disadvantage. He knew he could not see Jesus well standing on the same level with others in the crowd, so he came up with a plan. He ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree and perched there so that he could get a better view of Jesus when he passed by. It worked perfectly. Not only did Zacchaeus see Jesus clearly, but more importantly, Jesus saw him clearly. Jesus stopped near the tree, looked up and called Zacchaeus by name, to come down, and invited himself to his house.
To put it mildly, tax collectors did not have a good reputation among the people. They were hated by their own people because they represented the Roman Empire in collecting taxes for the emperor. In the process, some cheated the people by collecting more than what was mandated by the empire, and kept the difference and thereby enriched themselves at the expense of their own people. Needless to say, Zacchaeus, as a chief tax collector, was hated by the people. Therefore, the people were unhappy to see Jesus visit the house of a “sinner.”
On his part, Zacchaeus was thrilled that Jesus came to his house. Jesus did not condemn Zacchaeus, but his presence must have induced a positive change and a repentant heart in Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus told Jesus that he would give half of his possessions to the poor and that if he had cheated anyone, he would repay four times the amount. Apparently, the change of heart and “confession” were good enough for Jesus because he knew Zacchaeus’ heart. After all, how many rich men would climb a tree on a crowded road just to catch a glimpse of Jesus passing by? Jesus told Zacchaeus, “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.” (Luke 19: 9-10 NIV).
Opportunity and timing are important. Jesus was passing through Jericho for the last time on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified. He knew he was not coming back to Jericho. This was the last opportunity for Zacchaeus to meet Jesus in Jericho. Zacchaeus probably joined the crowd more out of curiosity than a desire to seek salvation. It takes the grace of God for us to find God and for God to find us. Note Jesus’ emphasis on “today.” Jesus knew it was that day or probably never for Zacchaeus because he was not coming back to Jericho again. If Zacchaeus wanted to be saved, it must be that day. Zacchaeus seized the opportunity and obtained his salvation.
Those who postpone decisions about salvation to sometime in the future should note that today is all we have. Tomorrow may be too late. Jesus is ready to come in and dine with you as he did with Zacchaeus. Jesus said, ”Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 NIV).
Many people have let opportunities for salvation slip by. The reasons some people offer for postponing decisions about salvation are not worthwhile. Jesus ignored the murmurs about his visit to the home of a “sinner.” He said he came to seek and save those who are lost. Some people believe they have to be perfect and free of sin before they come to Jesus. It is like someone trying to get well first before he or she sees a doctor, forgetting that the most critically ill patients have the best chance of seeing a doctor. Jesus’ handling of Zacchaeus was an indication that no one is beyond God’s pardon. Come to Jesus with all your sins, faults, weaknesses, and problems.
If you believe you are a sinner, today, salvation has come to you. You are the very person for whom Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead. Today, the resurrected Christ is passing through villages, towns, cities, countries, and individual homes looking for all the Zacchaeuses hiding out there. Don’t let him pass you by; grab him! This is the time to come out of hiding and drop all your excuses. This is your opportunity to sing prayerfully the hymn written by Fanny J. Crosby, “Pass me not O gentle Savior, hear my humble cry; while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by. Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry; while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.”
The realization that you are a sinner is a good thing. All of us are sinners, and some are sinners saved by grace. What is not good is for you to think that you are unworthy of God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Today, salvation has come to you just as you are; seize it while you are able. Accept that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus Christ died for you, confess your sins, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and start a new, born-again relationship with Jesus Christ. May God bless you.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.