Over the years, I’ve found that many of the most spiritually fruitful encounters I’ve had with people were completely unplanned. They demanded flexibility on my part. God brings people into my path, and then it’s just a matter of me being open to changing direction and responding to the opportunity. And as we discussed in the last post, if we have our eyes open, we will come upon opportunities on a regular basis. However, we must decide in advance to be flexible and engage when the opportunity arises!
One day, Jesus had just such an opportunity. Listen to these words in Luke 19:1:
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through…” (NIV84, emphasis added)
Jesus had places to go and people to see! Jericho was supposed to be just a “fly-over town” in His trip to somewhere else. Not that day! Read on…
A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner’.”
But 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.”
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 19:2-10 NIV84)
That day a life was changed. Jesus was just passing through, but He chose to respond to a genuine seeker. I suspect that many of Zacchaeus’s friends were also deeply affected that day when they saw him changed by his new relationship with Jesus.
How can you keep your eyes open as you “pass through” on your way? What might you have to sacrifice to be available to these unexpected encounters?