Monday, February 20, 2012

Sailing at a distance?

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.  Luke 19:1-4

I love the story of Zacchaeus, don't you?  Zacchaeus was a tax collector and in those days that was akin to being a thief, even worse, a traitor. The taxes he collected went to Rome, not Israel, and most tax collectors cheated the people and took money for themselves. The Scripture says Zacchaeus was rich. And the only way he could have gotten rich was by cheating his own people. What kind of person does that? A greedy, selfish person with little conscience. But Zacchaeus was fascinated by Jesus. He had probably heard of His miracles, heard He was a great prophet who claimed to know the way to God, to way to eternal life.

Still, Zacchaeus had no intention of actually meeting Jesus. He didn't want to see Him face to face or talk to Him. Zacchaeus was simply curious. He only wanted to see Jesus, so because he was short, he climbed into a tree.

Throughout my live, I've met numerous people who are curious about God. They will listen when I tell them my experience. They may even read the Bible, or go to church. They are what we call "seekers".  Like Zacchaeus, they are curious. They want to see a miracle. They want to know if eternal life exists. But they don't want to meet Jesus. Why? Perhaps they feel guilty for the lives they led. Perhaps they are afraid of what others will think. But more often than not, it's because they fear they will have to change. They will have to give up something, their money, their habits, their way of life. And though Jesus looks pretty good to them, they aren't willing to sacrifice anything to know Him. They see Jesus on His ship, Salvation, but they sail at a distance, staring through their telescope but never getting too close. 

I will even go as far as to say that many of these people are regular church goers. They may even to to Sunday school or be teachers of the Scriptures. But they truly do not know Jesus.

But Jesus knows them.
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. Luke 19:5-6

Jesus calls to them repeatedly throughout their life. He signals them with signal flags. He shouts through the bullhorn across the waves and He says,
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."  Isaiah 55:1

Sharing a meal with someone in those days was a very personal thing. It meant you were friends.. that you had a personal relationship. This is what Jesus is asking from Zacchaeus, what He's asking from all of us. "Come, let's share a meal. Let's get to know each other. Come aboard my ship and abide with Me."

Zacchaeus answered "Yes". He climbed down as fast as he could from that tree. It says he "made haste". I can just picture him scrambling down the trunk so fast, he nearly falls. And he received Jesus joyfully.

Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”  And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:8-10

It only took one "yes" from Zacchaeus and his life was instantly changed. Everything that used to be important to him, his money, his job, his reputation.. in light of the Son of God, it meant nothing. Zacchaeus willingly gave it all up. But look what he got in return?  Salvation came to Zacchaeus's house. You might say, Big deal, I believe in Jesus, I'm already saved. Perhaps, but what about your household? What about your loved ones, your friends, your co-workers? What about living a life filled with purpose and joy? Affecting others for good? Helping God snatch souls from the depths of hell? You can't do that from a tree!

So, if you're sailing at a distance from Jesus. If you're clinging to something in this world that you don't want to give up, might I recommend you toss it overboard, adjust sails and make your way to Jesus's ship. He's invited you to dinner and you don't want to be late!


  1. Mon Feb 20th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Thank-you for today's blog: "Sailing at a Distance". Excellent word, once again !
    When you were sharing the list of "why" people aren't willing to sacrifice anything to know Him" ... another thought came to my mind, as well. I think some people are afraid or intimidated by exposing their 'true' inner self -- their emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc. They fear it would "not be cool, or, appear silly" to -- cry, or confess their sins, or "humble themselves" -- to someone they cannot even see, and/or are unsure "if" God truly exists at all. Sometimes, a person can be so 'uncomfortable' with sharing their "real internal being" ... to be exposed 'naked on the inside, or, be so openly vulnerable' (so to speak) ... that they'd rather keep 'close-lipped, tightly sealed' ... and appearing to show an unfeeling, non-emotional, outward bravado instead. In other words, I feel many people are afraid of their own feelings, and have not been taught or shown how to "be themselves", and share truthfully from their inside.
    The thing is: God knows each and everyone of us ... inside and out (because He made us) ... so 'why' would we be 'hiding' from Him ??? "Who" do we 'think' we are fooling, anyway ???
    I have learned over the years, and am "STILL" learning ... that everything I have is only because of God's goodness and blessings to me. He gives, and, He takes away. No sense getting overly attached to anything 'here' ... at any moment it could be snatched away.
    Soooooooooooo looking forward to "that dinner", and "no", I don't want to be late !!! Lord Jesus, come quickly !
    Thanks again, for another 'timely Word' in due season !!!
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley
    P.S. -- Have a wonderful "Presidents' Day" in America; and, we'll have a wonderful "Family Day" holiday here in Canada.

  2. Great post!
    The people must have really hated Zacchaeus for cheating them like that. But in a way, aren't we all cheating when we use the talents and gifts that God gave us for our own glory instead of His? So that means that we're not so different from Zacchaeus. I always loved this story-me and my sisters used to play it out with the tree in our backyard, each of us taking turns to be Zacchaeus. Isn't it wonderful how God uses the most unworthy of peoples to show us an important lesson? That He loves us no matter what?

  3. Hi Brenda, that's an excellent point! I hadn't really thought of that, but how true that some people don't want to be vulnerable before God. They don't want to show their true feelings. But like you said, God already knows and loves and accepts them.
    Happy Family day!! Sorry, I don't keep up with Canadian holidays. What is Family day exactly?

    Eszter, the people of that time HATED tax collectors. They were probably the most hated of any person. You are exactly right.. if we don't use what God gives us for Him.. we are cheating Him. Great point! I am, indeed, always amazed how much God loves me without condition. :-)

    Thanks for stopping by, ladies!

  4. Hi MaryLu, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  5. Tues Feb 21st,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Well, funny you should ask about "Family Day". It's a relatively 'new' statutory holiday (over the past few years) ... on the third Monday of February ... in the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario (me). All Gov't offices are closed for that day, along with 'most' stores and places of business. It's basically a day to 'celebrate families/family'; and a welcome break during the winter blahs. Because there is no 'official' statutory holiday in February .... I believe that's why they chose this month.
    Sooooo ... now you can tell me about: "Presidents' Day" ... and what that holiday is all about ? We could have crossed over into New York State this past weekend for some shopping, but on the News channels ... they were sharing just how badly the border crossings were ... backed up, for hours. Thought it best to wait, until things settled down, once again.
    Thanks for asking. (And truly, I do NOT know what "Presidents' Day" is all about.)
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  6. Hi Chris! I'm so glad you are enjoying my blog. I'll definitely drop by yours today and check it out!!

    Brenda.. I think Family Day sounds like a really great idea.. a break from the hustle and bustle and time to spend with loved ones. President's day is a combination of both George Washington's birthday and Abraham Lincoln's Birthday. We used to celebrate them separately, but now we combined them into one day. It's just a day to honor the memories of two men who had a great impact on both the founding and the forging of our great nation.
    Yikes, sorry about the border..

  7. Tues Feb 21st,
    Hello, again MaryLu.
    Thanks for sharing and explaining about "Presidents' Day" ... I had no idea (sorry for my ignorance).
    The reason I started off (in above comment) .... "Funny you should ask about Family Day" .... is because "I" had to look it up, myself ... on 'why' we have this new holiday, 'when', and 'who' celebrates it, etc. I couldn't have even told you, that it is only "three" of our Canadian Provinces celebrating this special day ! Have NO idea why the other Provinces don't join in. And yes, it is a great idea.
    Okey-dokey ....
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  8. "Come let's share a meal..." What a great invitation. Thanks for the reminder of how tenderly God calls to us.