Summary: How did Jesus first get your attention? Was it through circumstances, another person’s witness, or is He still trying to get your attention. This sermon is a salvation message to anyone anywhere.
Is Jesus Standing Under Your Tree?
INTRODUCTION: When Jesus went to Jericho to teach, there was already quite a crowd of people who had gathered there. In fact, one man went early so he could get a seat--in a tree of all places Zacchaeus, a short person, couldn’t see for the crowd. He climbed up into a tree so he could see and hear what Jesus had to say.
No one would have thought that this man would be interested in spiritual things let alone make any special effort to be there. He was a tax collector who worked for the Roman authorities, a cheat and a thief. That had made him a wealthy man, and the Jews didn’t want anything to do with him. They resented him and hated him.
Zaccheus had a longing in his heart for something better than he had. He was searching, but the crowd had written him off. Would Jesus even know he was there or speak to him? In that crowd Zacchaeus would probably have been voted the least likely person to come to Jesus. You probably know some people that are just like this. Have you ever prayed, “Lord, send some SEARCHING nonbelievers across my pathway this week?” That sounds like a good way to pray, but the Lord may lead us to speak to people who are NOT searching yet. They may be as hard as nails right now.
One writer said, “We must interact with people concerning the gospel BEFORE we know they are ready.” We must let God decide who are SEEKERS and who are NONSEEKERS. Do you agree with this statement? We would have probably missed Zacchaeus. We don’t always know who the true seekers are, and therefore, we must be ready to do the work of evangelism with the ones God brings our way.
Sometimes we pre-judge people and say, “Oh, they wouldn’t be interested.” There used to be a student who came into my office to talk every day at lunch time. She would bring me a Reese cup and one for herself. We talked about all kinds of things and about the Lord. She didn’t go to church and didn’t want to go to church. After eating Reese cups all year, she came in at the end of the school year and just out of the blue said, “You’ll be happy to know that I went to church Sunday.” (I know I was happy not to have to eat any more Reese cups for awhile).
John Wesley believed that “God is busy working in people’s lives from the beginning.” One person described a person’s coming to Christ like a chain with many links. There is the first link and the last link and many in between. The Lord may use you to speak to a person at any of these links including the very first link when they are OPENLY HOSTILE toward the gospel or He may have you to close the deal.
In Zacchaeus’ case, people would have written him off, but Jesus knew what was in his heart. Zacchaeus was hoping that Jesus would know how he was feeing about his life and help him change for the better. On the inside something was missing. There was a “big hole” in the middle of his heart. He knew he had done wrong by stealing from the people. He may have thought, “I wish Jesus knew what was in my heart--how tired I am of fooling people and pretending to be something I am not. I wish Jesus knew how guilty I feel and how sorry I am for the way I have acted.”