Monthly Archives: September 2013

Jesus Saves AND Changes

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 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 because he was short he could not see over 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 the lost.” [Luke 19:1-10]

The people singled out a particular sinner but the truth is everyone is a sinner, no matter the sin we struggle with. But, praise God, Jesus came to save sinners! This is awesome and this is LIFE! But this is not the end of the story. People love to stop here – and it’s okay to camp out here for a while! – but it’s not the end.

As far as we can know from Scripture, Zacchaeus camps out at this point of the story for about 2.33 seconds. 🙂

The end of the story is, in some ways, even better than the first. When Jesus saves you, He changes you! A legitimate encounter with Jesus equals life change. You will change. It is impossible not to. And it’s not about this sin or that one. It’s not about elevating one sin over another – they’re all equal, as defined by the WORD who saves you and changes you.

Zacchaeus immediately (1) acknowledges Jesus as LORD, (2) acknowledges his specific sin (and his life as a sinner, far from God), and (3) repents by word and deed. He turns the other direction – 180°. He doesn’t try to cover anything up – what was an entitled lifestyle thirty seconds ago is now seen clearly by him as an affront to the ONE who saved him. An offense to the ONE who changed him. He immediately runs FROM his old, sinful life and runs TOWARD Jesus and His righteousness.

If the first part of Zacchaeus’ story is awesome, the second part is even awesomer! (So awesome that I’m making up words.) Jesus has the power to SAVE you and to CHANGE you. And that is exactly what He does. Don’t stop the story after part 1. The world loves to do this because it makes Jesus out to be simply “the friend of sinners.” Non-judgmental, keep doing your thing, peace-loving, etc. While it’s true that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, it’s also true that the world already stands condemned (John 3:16-21). Jesus makes clear time and time again that when He saves someone, He changes them. “Go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11).

Part 1 – Jesus seeks you out and saves you. Awesome! LIFE!

Part 2 – Jesus changes you. Awesomer! More LIFE – better LIFE – His LIFE! The Spirit lives in you and through you. Old life gone, new LIFE has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). CHRIST IN YOU – THE HOPE OF GLORY! (Colossians 1:27).

Do not skip this part of the story. Zacchaeus did not, and Jesus does not. True life change awaits.

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Obedient Leadership

And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.”

…Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly…

And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in Me, to uphold Me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them He showed Himself holy. [Numbers 20:9-13]

[20:9-11] After years of constant service and unparalleled patience Moses fell at his strongest point (12:3meekness): (a) he spoke in anger; (b) he usurped the place of God, saying, “Shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” and (c) he acted violently, striking the rock twice, when God had told him only to speak to it. [20:12] God’s word of judgment is directed to both Moses and Aaron, for Aaron had accompanied Moses and was implicated in the rashness of his brother’s action. Their ministry was coming to an end. [study notes from the ESV Reformation Study Bible]

The account of Moses and Aaron losing their place of leadership is sobering and sad. Certainly results could be different on this side of the cross, but there is no guarantee of that. We must lead by God’s Word and direction alone, or we may miss out on our chance at leading at all. Stay faithful to the One who called you and placed you in leadership to begin with.