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Billy Graham - Zacchaeus


Billy Graham - Zacchaeus

Now, tonight I want you to turn with me to the 19th chapter of Luke's Gospel, the 19th chapter. Jesus is passing through Jericho at this point in scripture. And a blind man screamed out and said, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me". And Jesus touched him and he was healed. And now he's passing right through the middle of Jericho and another incident happens at the same time. "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was very rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was: and could not for the press". That means the press of the crowd, that doesn't mean the media.

"To see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste, come down: for today I going to abide at your house. And he made haste, and he came down, and he received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, and saying, that he was gone to be the guest with a man who's a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: behold, Lord, half of all my goods I'm going to give it to the poor: and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, this day, this day is salvation come to this house, for as much as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost".

The Son of Man is come to seek and save that which was lost. And there are thousands of people here tonight that are lost. You're not lost from your parents, so much, or lost from your friends. You are lost from God. You are separated from God. And Jesus has come to seek you out. And he sought out Zacchaeus. And I'll tell you the story as Jesus was passing through Jericho. Now you see Zacchaeus was a publican. That meant that he was a tax gatherer and he worked for Rome. He was rich. He was despised. He was a social outcast. The people didn't like the tax gatherers gathering taxes for a foreign country that dominated them. And if Jesus had considered public opinion he would have never once glanced at Zacchaeus. But Jesus never considered public opinion.

The scripture says that "On all occasions Jesus made of himself no reputation". And I imagine it had been many months since anyone had ever crossed voluntarily into Zacchaeus' house. A man of great riches, but he was a lonely man. He was a hated man. He was avoided by almost everybody in town. But his curiosity got the best of him. He wanted to see Jesus. He'd possibly heard about Jesus. And he'd heard them call him many names. Some people had called Jesus a devil. Some said he was a fanatic. Some said he was a blasphemer. Some said he was a heretic. Some said he was a prophet. Some said he was an imposter. And many said that he was actually the Son of God.

So naturally, Zacchaeus had a tremendous curiosity to see Jesus. But you see, to see Jesus he had some obstacles in the way to get to Jesus. There was the press of the crowd, a big crowd. And he was a little fella. And to try to push his way through that crowd was very difficult. And he was also small of stature. He was a very small man. And to get through the crowd was almost an impossibility. Because everybody wanted to get close to Jesus. And many of you would like to know Jesus, and you'd like to get close to Jesus, and you'd like to have Jesus in your heart, and you'd like to have salvation, but you face many obstacles. What are they? Let's just list a few of them that you face. First is pride. The Bible teaches that pride keeps more people from Christ than any other sin. The sin of pride.

The Bible says, "God resisteth the proud but giveth grace unto the humble". The Bible says, "If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world let him become a fool that he may be wise". Jesus said we are to become as little children to be converted. And if you're to get close to Christ and have Christ in your heart you may be wise, but you must become a fool. You must become as a child. You see we're all proud. And we don't like to humble ourselves. And then the second thing that keeps us from Christ is idolatry. And idolatry is another sin and all the way through the scriptures that is mentioned is keeping more people from God than almost any other sin.

And our idolatry is very unique in our day because we worship ourselves. We worship man. Whether we realize it or not, we're worshiping ourselves, the things that we've created, the things we've made with our hands. Whether it's a television set or a new automobile, materialism. All of these things have become Gods and Goddesses. Sex has become a Goddess just as much as it was in the days of Ephesus or in the days of Rome. These are the modern Gods. And the scripture says idolatry, those that commit it, "Shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death," in Revelation 21:8. God hates idolatry. And then the third thing which may keep some of you from Christ is worldliness. "For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul"? Said Jesus in Matthew 16.

There are many of you that are selling your soul, your eternal spirit for a little bit of this world. But Jesus said, suppose you got all the oil of the Middle East, all the gold in South Africa, all the diamonds in Holland, all the wealth of the whole world and you had it all, all the music, all the culture, all the Philosophy, all the psychology of the world, you had it all and lost your soul? It wouldn't be worth it. And yet, you are losing your soul for just a little bit of it. Now that doesn't mean that you're not to have money. Nowhere in the Bible does God condemn a wealthy man unless he misuses it or unless he got it the wrong way. Then he's condemned. But the Bible says, "Know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God".

Now what does that word "World" mean? It's cosmos , it means a world system dominated by evil. That evil part of the world's system in which we live. Friendship with that means enmity with God. And God says, "Come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing". Worldliness in the New Testament meant the relationship that people had with their social environment. We're to be separated from the evils of the world.

Now perhaps you saw those huge pictures on television a few months ago of some forty whales, who for some unknown biological reason beached themselves and died. They left their living environment for one of death and died. And many of you have left the environment of living in the scriptures and living for God, and gone out into the world and your soul is dead toward God. It's like the lemming in Scandinavia. They band together. And for some unknown reason walk down into the ocean and die. You deliberately bring on your own spiritual death. You promote your own eternal death by going with the evils of the world round about you. And the world round about you squeezes you into its mold and it becomes a hindrance to you coming to Jesus Christ. Because the Bible says you're going to have to give up the wrong things that are in the world: the lust and the greed and the hate and the prejudice and the materialism part of the world that's wrong, you have to turn from when you come to Christ.

And that's the reason it's so hard to follow Christ in the modern day. It's not easy to be a Christian. I'm not going to fool you. I would think it's more difficult to be a Christian right now in modern America or modern western world than any other part of the world. You see to be a Christian in some parts of the orient or some parts of the world you have to really stand for Christ and you have to suffer. But in a country where there's no suffering and no physical persecution it's rather easy just to slide along, really not knowing Christ. Calling yourself a Christian but not really being a Christian, not a New Testament Christian. And there are thousands of people like that that have gone to church all their lives and been baptized and confirmed but still not knowing Christ.

And then another obstacle are secret sins the Bible says. The Psalmist prayed, "Cleanse thou me from secret thoughts". And Paul wrote to the Romans, "The day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ". You can keep no secrets from God. Your friends don't know anything about them. Your family may not even know. But you know. And God has been speaking to you about them. It's like the incredible hulk on television. I think I've seen it once, maybe twice. But I read about it. And if I understand it correctly, it's trying to get rid of the person inside of him, always. And perhaps you've been battling with the hidden man in your heart with your secret sins. Confess them to Christ tonight. Come to the cross and bring those secrets of your heart and lay them before him and say, "Lord, here they are. I surrender".

And then self righteousness is another thing that keeps people from Christ. "There is a generation," the Bible says, "That are pure in their own eyes and yet they have not been washed from their filthiness". Pure in our own eyes. Patting each other on the back. Saying we're good when actually we're bad. Saying we're good when actually we're sinning and breaking God's laws. That keeps us from Christ, self righteousness. Now we've seen the obstacles, let's look at Jesus. It's a personal call. Jesus turns to Zacchaeus and calls him by name. He sees Zacchaeus up the tree. You see Zacchaeus had climbed a sycamore tree and was out on the limb, sitting there watching Jesus. And all of a sudden the most unpopular man in town, the most hated man in town, the most sinful man in town hears his name called by the great prophet, Jesus. And Jesus says, "Zacchaeus".

Can you image how startled he was that out of all that crowd and those religious leaders, he, the worst sinner in town, called by his name? The Bible says Jesus is the good shepherd. He calleth his own sheep by name and leadeth them. In Genesis we read that God came in the Garden of Eden personally to call Adam. He said, "Adam, Adam, where art thou"? And later he called Abraham. He said, "Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Solomon". He called them all by name. "Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel". He called them by name. And then when the Lord Jesus Christ came he called his disciples by name. He went down by the seashore and he called out, "Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John". And from the receipt of custom another man, like Zacchaeus, a tax gatherer, "Matthew, come and follow me". And he rose and followed Jesus immediately.

And on the Damascus road, he said, "Saul, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me"? And on the Isle of Patmos, he said, "John". He called you by name. What is your name: Jim, Mary, Susie, Peter? He called you by name tonight. He knows your name. He knows all about you. And he called you. And he says, "Mary, get up out of your seat and come and receive me tonight. I want to come into your house and into your heart". "Jim, you need me. You know you need me to help you, to forgive you, to take you to heaven. Get up out of your seat and come". He called you by name. He looked up in the tree and said, "Zacchaeus". And it was an urgent call. He said, "Zacchaeus, make haste, hurry. We don't have long". And that's what he says to you.

Hurry, make haste. If you're going to come to Christ, come now. You may never have another moment like this. Nowhere does the Bible promise tomorrow you can be saved. It's today: today is the day of salvation. Now is the accepted time. There may not be a tomorrow for you. There's a little verse in your national anthem that sometimes I miss when I hear it sung. And it's a beautiful thing. "Oh Lord our God, arise on thee our hopes we fix. God save us all". Tonight that would be my prayer for you. God save us all. And that's what the Lord Jesus came "To seek and to save that which is lost". Today he's urgently calling you by name. And it was a successful call because Zacchaeus did make haste. You know what he did? He didn't wait to climb down the tree. He jumped.

And D.L. Moody, the evangelist of the last century, said that Zacchaeus was converted from the limb to the ground. And I expect that's about true. The rich young ruler came to Jesus. He fell down before Jesus. He was running to Jesus. Making haste to get to Jesus. And he got to Jesus, but he couldn't pay the price. And he was lost even though Jesus loved him and Jesus tried and Jesus talked with him and gave him precious time. Yet that young man never came to Jesus. But Zacchaeus, the great sinner, did come to Jesus. And Jesus went to Zacchaeus' home. And you know what I think? I think Jesus probably took Matthew with him. And I expect that Matthew and Zacchaeus got into a conversation late into the night. And Matthew told him about his own experience. How he had been also a tax gatherer and how he had been a sinner and how Jesus had called him by name.

And he said, "Follow me". And Matthew said, "I got up right then and followed him and I've never regretted one minute of it. He changed my life, he's given me assurance. He's blessed my family. He's brought our family together. Oh, I'd die for him. I've given him my life". And Zacchaeus heard that. And I imagine Matthew told him that night, "You know Zacchaeus, if you come to Christ, if you come to Jesus, you're going to have to make some restitution. You're going to have to change your whole way of living. And you're going to have to declare openly your allegiance for Jesus Christ". We're to be in the world but not of it. We live in two worlds. We live in this world, but we're also citizens of another world, the kingdom of heaven. And our first allegiance is always to the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I imagine Matthew told him all of those things. What was the result? The result was that Zacchaeus received Christ.

Now receiving Christ involves an act of faith beyond mere human reason. The Bible says, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they're foolishness unto him. Neither can he know them because they're spiritually discerned". In other words, a natural person like you just cannot come and reason his way to the Kingdom of God. You cannot reason your way to Christ. I don't imagine Zacchaeus sat down and went through all the Philosophy and all the theological debates about Jesus. He just joyfully received him by faith. Simply like a little child. And Jesus received him and forgave him. You see Christ is knocking on our heart's door tonight. He's asking people like you to receive him. And they accused him of saying, they accused him by saying, "This man receiveth sinners".

Are you a sinner? Have you broken God's law? I'm a sinner. Are you? Sure you are. He receiveth sinners. Isn't that a wonderful thing that he receiveth sinners? And when I stand, and if they should ask me at the gates of heaven when I die, "What is the password"? I'm going to say, "I'm here by the grace and the mercy of God because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. I'm not here by any good works Billy Graham ever did". I'm not going to heaven because I've preached in a big stadium full of people like this tonight. I'm not going to heaven because I've read the Bible. I'm not going to heaven because I've prayed. I'm not going to heaven because of a wonderful Christian wife and five Christian children. I'm going to heaven because of the grace and the mercy of God. I'm a sinner. I deserve judgment, I deserve hell. I'm going because of Christ. And I have received Christ. I've let him come into my heart. And I've come to the cross. He's forgiven my sin. I have eternal life. I know I'm saved tonight. I know where I've come from. I know why I'm here. I know where I'm going. And if he should come tonight, I'm ready.

Do you know that? Are you sure about that? This man receiveth sinners. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God even to them that believe on his name". You receive him and let him come into your life and you'll find what it means to be joyful. Without Christ to fill that empty void in your life nothing else satisfies. Sex doesn't do it. Drugs doesn't do it. Power, popularity, all of that is nothing. Christ is everything. And then when you have Christ you're ready to live here and now. Life with a capital l when you really know Christ as your Savior. Zacchaeus openly confessed Christ, publicly. He stood in front of all of his friends in the whole town and he said, "I've been wrong, I've been a sinner. I'm ready to restore everything I ever did if necessary. Whatever it takes. From now on I'm following Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and he is my Savior. He came to seek and to save me in this town of Jericho".

He came to Halifax in the form of this crusade to seek and to save you. And he called you by name. And he says, "Make haste, come while there's time". Because you see the scripture says, "Whosoever denieth the son, the same hath not the father. He that confessed the son openly hath the father also". Also the scripture says, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God dwelleth in him and he in God". And Jesus said, "If you deny me before men". If you deny me publicly: "I'll not confess you before my father which is in heaven". You see Jesus Christ hung on the cross publicly in front of hundreds of people, dying, bleeding for you. And he asks you to publicly receive him. And I'm going to ask you to do that in a moment. There're three things you have to do.

First, listen to this so you can never stand at the judgment and say, "I never knew". First, you must repent of your sin. How do you repent? The word repent means to change your mind. It means to turn. You're going in this direction in your life, you turn around and start in a new direction. Now, you may not be able to turn by yourself. If fact you can't. You have to say, "Lord, help me to turn, help me to repent". It means that you're willing to let Christ come into your life and help you change your whole pattern of living, your lifestyle, everything, if necessary. And then the second thing, by faith you receive him. Now that word faith may cause you to stumble. It means that you commit, that you surrender your total life to Jesus Christ. You're not trusting any other God, you're not trusting any other religion. You're not trusting anything but Jesus Christ and him alone to save you.

That's faith, total commitment to Christ. And then thirdly, you're willing to follow him. You're willing to be his disciple. Now the word disciple means learner or discipline. It means disciplined learning. You're following him. Growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ by studying the Bible, by prayer, by witnessing, by attendance at church. You say, "Well, Billy, you know most of those things I'm already doing". But do you really know Christ? Are you sure of it? If you're not sure, if you're not certain that Christ is in your heart tonight and that your sin is forgiven, he's calling you by name. He sees you. And he says, "Make haste and come".

I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat right now, hundreds of you from everywhere as we've seen every night. Get up out of your seat and come and stand in front. And say by coming, "I want to come to the cross by faith tonight and I want my sins forgiven. I want to know that I have eternal life. I want to know I'm going to heaven". You get up and come right now, quickly and stand here. If you're with friends or relatives they'll wait. And after you come, I'm going to say a word to you and have a prayer with you. And we'll give you some literature to help you in your Christian life. And then you can go and join your friends. But I'm going to ask no one to leave the stadium now at this holy moment.

Everyone in an attitude of prayer as people are already coming. You get up and come right now too. God is calling you by name. Jesus is looking in your direction. And he knows your heart and he says, "Come". You get up and come quickly. We're going to wait. You that are watching at home or in a bar or in a hotel room wherever you are, by television you have been able to see that there are hundreds of people here in Halifax, Nova Scotia coming to commit their lives to Jesus Christ. You too are like Zacchaeus. And Jesus is calling you by name and he's saying, "Come, make haste". Make your commitment where you are now. And be sure and go to church next Sunday. God bless you.

If you would like to commit your life to Jesus Christ, Please call us right now toll free at 1-877-772-4559.

Or you can write to us at "Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201"

Or you can contact us on the web 24/7 at PeaceWithGod.tv - We'll get the same helps to you that we give to everyone who responds at the invitation.

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