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THE THRILL OF SEEING JESUS
Intro: Ill. Who this Zacchaeus was. He was a tax collector. Verse 2 tells us that he was the “chief among the publicans”. That means that he was the head tax collector. He was a traitor to his nation because he was aligned with Rome. People hated him because he defrauded them out of their money. Rome set a standard rate, and men like Zacchaeus charged what they wanted to charge above that. The people had no choice but to pay the taxes they were assessed. As a result of his position and his greed, he was rich, powerful, connected, feared and despised.
While Zacchaeus had wealth, position and power, he knew there was something missing in his life. His financial, political and social connections left him empty and needy. Somewhere along the way, Zacchaeus heard about a man named Jesus. Maybe he heard the reports from the men who worked for him as they came in from collecting taxes around the community. Perhaps he heard the stories firsthand as he fleeced the people out of their cash. Regardless of what it was, something was tugging at his heartstrings. He was not satisfied with anything he had; he came to the place where nothing but seeing Jesus would satisfy the deep longings of his soul.
Ill. Many of us have been at this same place. When we were lost, God brought us to the place where nothing in our lives was enough anymore. He brought us to the place where we knew that something was missing. He brought us to the place where we could not longer drown our need in alcohol, lose it in the fog of drugs or bury it in the shallow grave of tough talk and false bravado. God, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, brought us to the place where we knew we needed Him. So, we came to Him and He saved us by His grace. At least, that is my experience and I praise Him for doing that in my life. Hallelujah! I praise Him for the day He came to me and treed me so that I was forced to look to Him!
Ill. I am preaching to saved people today. I am talking to people who have already looked away by faith and have come to know Jesus in a personal way. I am preaching to the redeemed. Even after we are saved, there is a desire to see Him. There is a desire to know Him. There is a desire to grow in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. As you read His Word and walk with Him, there will be an ever-deepening desire to know Him better.
Paul spoke of his own desire to know the Lord is a deeper fashion. In Philippians 3:8-12 Paul says, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
The words “know” and “knowledge” speak of the most intimate knowledge of all. These words refer to a knowledge that is deep, intimate and complete. Paul is talking about seeing Christ in all His fullness and of knowing Him at the most intimate of levels. Paul wants to know Jesus completely. Only then will Paul be able to “apprehend” or “lay hold on” the purpose for which the Lord “laid hold” of him. In other words, it is the intimacy of seeing Jesus that enables us to become the person Jesus saved us to be.
I think we can all identify with Paul’s desire. No matter how deep the saint of God grows in the things of God there always seems to be a desire for more. There is a desire to know Him better, to understand His Word better, and to grow closer to Him; there is a desire within the child of God to know Him in His fullness! No matter how close you get, how much you learn, or how much you grow in the Lord, there is always a desire for more. The child of God is never satisfied with where he or she is in their walk with God! When you get satisfied, you will grow cold and you will get slack. As long as there is a hunger and a desire for Him in the heart of the saint of God, there will be growth, closeness and blessing!
From the well-known story of Zacchaeus I want to preach about The Thrill of Seeing Jesus. I want you to understand that seeing Him is essential living a successful, happy Christian life. If you are saved, God wants to bring you to the place where seeing Him means more to you than anything else in the world. He wants you to know The Thrill Of Seeing Jesus! You see, God knows that you will never be all He saved you to be until you come to the place where you can see Him! Notice the truths that present themselves in this passage.
I. v. 3, 7 THE DIFFICULTIES OF SEEING HIM
(Ill. When the desire to see Jesus was birthed in the heart of Zacchaeus, he made his way to the roadway he knew Jesus would travel as He passed through Jericho. He stationed himself beside that road because he wanted to see the Lord. But, Zacchaeus was hindered in his efforts to see the Lord Jesus. There were some obstacles that stood in his way and prevented him from achieving his goals. Notice these difficulties with me today.)
A. v. 3b The Difficulty Of The Crowds – Apparently, Zacchaeus was a little late in getting to the place where he thought Jesus would pass by. When he arrived, a crowd had already gathered, and since he was “little of stature”, the crowds posed a huge problem for him. He could not see over them for they blocked his view!
B. v. 3b The Difficulty Of His Condition – As I have already mentioned, Zacchaeus was a short fellow, so part of the reason for his difficulty in seeing was something that he brought to the table himself. He was a part of his own problem.
(Ill. When you develop a desire to see the Lord, you need to understand that your request will not go unopposed. Satan will place whatever obstacles he can in your path to keep you from seeing Jesus.
Sometimes, he will use people. There are times when he will use a spouse, a parent, a child, a friend, or some other person to hinder you in your desire to see the Lord. He will place them in your path and they will criticize you, or your efforts. They may attack those who would try to help you grow in the Lord. They will stand in your way and do all they can to prevent you from seeing Him.
Sometimes, he will use the flaws in our own natures to hinder us from seeing Jesus. We all have character flaws and sin that we are constantly seeking to overcome. If he can, Satan will use our own shortcomings to keep us from seeing Jesus, Ill. Heb. 12:1-3; James 1:14-15.
All I am saying is that when you go after Jesus Christ; when you develop a desire within your heart to see Him, you can rest assured that there will be difficulties. Your flesh and the devil do not want you to see Him. They know that seeing Him will change your life. They know that seeing Him will diminish their power and influence in your life. They know that if you ever see Him, you will never be the same! Thus, they do all they can to hinder you!
C. v. 7 The Difficulty Of The Critics – Even after Zacchaeus saw Jesus there were those who criticized. This time, their criticism was two-fold. First, they criticized Zacchaeus by calling him a sinner, they were right, but they had no right to judge him, Matt. 7:1-5. By the way, your critics have no right to judge you either. When they do, they are merely opening a window into their own soul, which reveals that they are not where they need to be in their own walk with the Lord! Second, they criticized Jesus for having anything to do with Zacchaeus. In their failure to see Jesus for themselves, they were guilty of condemning the Lord along with the person they despised.
Don’t allow the critics and their criticisms to bother you. Just stay the course for Jesus and endure in striving to see Him. If you ever do, the critics and their petty complaints will fade into nothingness in light of His glory and grace. For when you se Him in His glory, you are looking full into the face of God, and there is no greater thrill than that! Ill. 2 Cor. 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”)
I. The Difficulties Of Seeing Him
II. v. 4 THE DEDICATION OF SEEING HIM
(Ill. The desire to see Jesus was go great that Zacchaeus would allow neither the crowds nor his condition to get in his way. He was dedicated to his desire of seeing Jesus and he paid the price to accomplish that desire.)
A. It Required Effort – Notice, “he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him…” He “ran” and he “climbed”. Both of those things indicate effort. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus and he was willing to pay the price to do so.
Seeing Jesus will not be easy. It will cost you something to see Him. The price will be prayer. The price will be time in the Word of God. The price will be attendance in His house. The price will be turning away from your sins. The price will be sacrificing your dignity. Seeing Jesus will not be cheap, but it will be worth whatever price you have to pay. The question is, what price are you willing to pay to see Him? There is nothing in your life that is worth more than your ability to see Him! Whatever you have to put down; whatever you have to take up; whatever you have to do you must be able to see Him. Nothing is more important!
B. It Required Escape – before Zacchaeus could see the Lord, he had to distance himself from the crowds. He had to get away from the people who were standing in His way. That is why he “ran before”. He got away from the people who hindered him!
Seeing Jesus may require that we distance ourselves from the people who would stop us from seeing Him. No one in this world is worth more than you ability to see Jesus! No relationship in this world is worth more than your relationship with Him. Not a spouse, not a child, not a parent, not a friend, no one is worth more than seeing Him. When someone comes between you and Him; when they block your view of the Savior’s face; when they distract you from seeing Him, you need to distance yourself from that person. When someone seeks to discourage you and hinder you in your quest for Jesus, you need to get away from that individual. When you find yourself in the presence of someone who can do little but criticize others, you need to get away from that person, they will keep you from seeing Him!
I. The Difficulties Of Seeing Him
II. The Dedication of Seeing Him
III. v. 5-10 THE DELIGHT OF SEEING HIM
(Ill. Seeing Him will not be without pain and it will not be without a price, but seeing Him will be worth every penny it costs and every pain it causes. Seeing Him will change your life. Notice what happened when Zacchaeus saw Him)
A. v. 5 It Was Personal – The Lord Himself stopped where Zacchaeus was and He spoke directly to the little man in that tree. He even called him by his name. It was a personal encounter that changed the life of Zacchaeus forever!
When you get to the place where you see Him for yourself, it will be a very personal thing for you. You will not have to rely on the testimony of others; you will have your own story to tell! When you see Him, He will speak to you and you will hear His voice. If you ever see Him one time, you will want to see Him again! I remember some of the times God has showed up in my life and let me catch a glimpse of Him. Those times have been a blessing, but they have just made me hungry for more. I was in a service last night and I watched some people getting a glimpse of Him. I silently prayed that He would let me see Him too. I got a blessing, but I didn’t get what they were getting last night, but I will! I have seen Him before and I want to see Him again!
B. v. 8 It Was Powerful – Ill. The Lord went home with Zacchaeus, sometimes during the course of their conversation, Zacchaeus was convicted of his sins and his life was changed. This is evidenced by what he said in this verse. This greedy, money–minded man was changed just by seeing Jesus!
Seeing Him is a powerful thing! Seeing Him empowered Moses and gave him the energy to lead Israel through the wilderness for 40 years, Ill. Ex. 33:11-34:8; 34:29-35; Heb. 11:24-27. Seeing Him changes everything! Seeing Him will enable you to weather the storms of life. Seeing Him will help you to stand against the attacks of the enemy. Seeing Him will give you power and fill your soul with glory. Seeing Him will give you courage and strength. Seeing Him will give you boldness. Seeing Him will give you confidence. Seeing Him will fill you with His wonder. Seeing Him will impact every area of your life. Seeing Him will change your life like nothing else can.
Ill. Just ask the woman at the well; the Gadarene demoniac; the woman with the issue of blood; the blind man at the temple; the Samaritan leper; the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda; Saul of Tarsus; Simon Peter; or any saint of God who has ever seen Him! There’s nothing like seeing Him!
C. v. 9-10 It Was Profound – Seeing Jesus saved Zacchaeus! Their meeting was no accident. The Lord knew that Zacchaeus would be in that tree before he ever breathed life into the nostrils of Adam. This was a planned meeting and it was profound. The man who climbed that tree was never the same after he saw Jesus!
If you know the Lord, there are some places along the way that He has prepared for you. There are some places of meeting that He has designed just for you. There will be some divine encounters where He will allow you to see Him and experience His grace and power. There will be some moments of divine interruption when He will just show up and show out in your soul. He may cause you to dance like He did David. He may cause you to humble yourself before Him like He did Job. He may give you a shout, or He may just squeeze your heart and let the juice run out of your eyes. But, there will be some times when He will let you see Him! When He does, it is life changing. It is profound. It is wonderful. Enjoy those times for all they are worth, for they will sustain you though many a hard day when He doesn’t show up in the same way. I know that He is always there, but He doesn’t always manifest His presence. When He does, live it up and praise Him in the day of His visitation!
Conc: Acts chapter 7 tells us about a Deacon by the name of Stephen. He was preaching Jesus and he was attacked for his preaching. He was arrested and he was put on trial by the Jews. After he preached to them awhile, they were convicted of their sins. Instead of repenting and turning to Jesus, they reacted in anger and attacked Stephen. Acts 7:54-60 tells the rest of the story. They attacked Stephen. They bit him and they cast him out of the city and began to stone him to death. In the midst of the most painful moment in his life, Stephen got a glimpse of Jesus, Acts 7:55-56. That glimpse of the Savior allowed the suffering servant of God to fall asleep in Jesus, even as the stones destroyed his body!
Seeing Him makes the difference between just existing and truly living. Seeing Him makes the difference between doubt and confidence. Seeing Him makes the difference between turmoil and peace. Seeing Him makes all the difference between sorrow and joy.
Can you see Him today? If you can, then you know what I have been trying to say in this message. If you can see Him, then you should rejoice in His presence!
If you can’t see Him, there is a reason why you can’t. Is there some defect in your life, some sin that needs to be dealt with? Is there some person who is standing ion your way? What is it that keeps you from seeing Him? You should do what Zacchaeus did. Get past the crowds, get past your personal circumstances and pay the price to see Him. It’s worth it, whatever it costs!