When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:1-10
During this account in the gospel of Luke we are given some very important information about Zaccheus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was a man who valued money above all else and most likely cheated those he collected taxes from. Tax collectors were the most hated in Israel. Taxes were collected for the Roman empire and it was Jews taken advantage of other Jews.
Zaccheus was a short man and needed to climb a Sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus passing through the crowd. A sycamore tree can grow to be between 75 to 100 feet and be 10 feet in diameter. It is a very large tree. As Jesus walked by He stated to Zaccheus that He desired to have dinner with him.
The people grumbled because they didn’t understand how Jesus could spend time with such a man as this. But Jesus looked beyond the surface. Jesus looked into the heart. In Zaccheus He saw a man who was hungry for truth and it was the Holy Spirit who drew Zaccheus. When Jesus stated to Zaccheus that He desired to eat dinner with Him Zaccheus responded without hesitation.
Zaccheus demonstrates through his actions the faith he has in Jesus. He states to the Lord that he was willing to give half of all he had to the poor and to repay four times anyone he had wronged. The heart of Zaccheus had been impacted by the Living Christ. This is a contrast to the rich young ruler who when Jesus spoke to him about his wealth was not willing to depart with it and walked away from Jesus.
Jesus statement that He came to seek and save those who were lost sums up His mission. He came to earth to give His life so that anyone who would place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ would be saved. It is because of what Jesus has done alone that we have salvation.
Authentic saving faith impacts the way we live our lives. It affects every decision we make on a daily basis. It is impossible to claim that we are truly saved and not be transformed into the character and nature of Jesus Christ.

But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  Luke 6:27-28

In this life there will be those who hate us because we follow Jesus Christ.  As we can see from news reports around the world that IsIs and other Islamic Terrorist groups are dead set on trying to rid the world of Christianity.  But the question is how are we to respond?  Are we to respond with weapons and violence?  The answer is no.  We are to respond the same why our Lord and Savior did.

Those who persecute and hate us are blinded by the lies and deception of Satan.  Satan has so blinded the hearts of those who are lost in this world.  We are to respond in love and we are to pray for those who persecute us.  We are to pray that their eyes would be open to the truth.  We are to love them with the love of Christ and we are to extend the grace and mercy of God toward them.

When we come to Christ our lives are no longer our own.  So if we are injured because of the name of Jesus we should see it as a very high honor.  There is no greater honor on this earth than to suffer for the name of Jesus.  It is not comfortable or even enjoyable, but it is the Lord who gives us the strength and power to endure everything we will face upon this earth.

When we abide in Him and spend time daily in God’s word and prayer our hearts and minds become one with His.  As our lives are transformed and our hearts are changed we began to see things around us as the Lord sees things.  We begin to react and make decisions as the Lord would make decisions.  When people rise up against us desiring to injure us or even end our lives, we don’t fight back, we love them as the Lord would love them.

This is not something that is accomplished in our own strength.  It is accomplished in the might and power of the Holy Spirit.  But it requires that we seek the Lord daily and spend time in His presence.  It requires that we draw near and make seeking the Lord the priority of our lives.  As we grow more in Him, we decrease as He increases.  This walk with Jesus is about being transformed.  The more we draw near to Him, the more our lives are transformed.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me

23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his [n]life will lose it, but whoever loses his [o]life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:23-27 NASB

Following Jesus is a very serious thing.  It requires us to count the cost.  Many today have cheapened the gospel and compromised it to build large ministries and make it more appealing to the masses.  But the truth of the gospel is that if you choose to follow Jesus Christ you must be willing to lay down your life.

Your must be willing to lay down your will and your desires at the foot of the cross.  Jesus did not only come to save us from our sins, He came to become Lord of our lives.  Many people can accept Jesus coming to save them from their sins, but few truly desire to make Him Lord of their lives.

There is a daily surrender that takes place as we seek to follow Jesus Christ.  We will face trials and tribulation in this world.  We will be hated and persecuted for the name of Jesus.  But the greatest honor anyone can have is to suffer for the name of Jesus.  There are great rewards that await those in God’s kingdom who suffer on this earth for the name of Jesus.

There are many because of the desire to be comfortable are unwilling to truly follow Jesus is in the way He commands.  Many desire to claim to follow Christ but hold on to their own will and their own desires.  They merely treat Jesus as a ticket to get into heaven but have never fully given Him their hearts.  We must ask ourselves if these people are truly born again.  Because if someone is truly born again then their one driving desire in their life becomes Jesus and His kingdom.

There are many today who sit under preaching that is compromised.  Many have compromised the word of God because they are afraid to challenge people with the truth.  When many are challenged with the truth today they will not stay, but they will leave.  Too many have their eyes simply fixed upon church growth and fail to remember that Jesus did not call us to make converts, Jesus called us to make disciples.

For a person to truly be made a disciples requires the purity of God’s word without compromise.  It is the truth that sets us free and if we are dining and feeding off a compromised meal than we will claim to be in Christ but still be in bondage to the deceptions and lies of the enemy.

May we be committed to preach the truth and live our lives in obedience.  Jesus today is looking for true disciples who will desire Him above all else and who will grow in maturity and intimacy.  Too many are spending their time playing games at the foot of the cross.  Let us come away with the Lord and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  He is coming soon and there is much to accomplish.  May we be the sons and daughters He has called us to be.