Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fruit Cycle

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 19:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "So he made haste and came down and received Him joyfully." Luke 19:6

The wonderful story of Zacchaeus is unique yet typical. It is like following the life cycle of a piece of spiritual fruit in the way it illustrates the stages of someone coming to Jesus. Here are some of those stages:

1. Spiritual hunger
Zaccheus was rich and a social and religious outcast. His position as a chief tax collector meant he was doubly hated as a collaborator and enforcer with the Romans. He's the kind of person we easily depersonalize, feeling they're altogether not like us. But despite his more-than-adequate lifestyle and incorrect politics, he had spiritual longings. That's true of most people.

2. Attraction to Jesus
Jesus intrigued Zaccheus, to the point he climbed a tree to compensate for his shortness in order to see Him. Fascination with Jesus continues into our generation. I have heard and read many stories of people, even in places where Jesus is not well known and faith in Him not condoned, having a fascination with Him and encountering Him in visions and dreams.

3. Chance intersection
Jesus happened to look up and catch sight of Zaccheus. God often brings together thirsty people with the thirst-quencher sometimes in ways so seemingly coincidental we're amazed by the miraculousness of it.

4. Personal encounter
Jesus invited Himself over to Zaccheus's house. I don't know if that was socially kosher or not, but Z. sure didn't mind. He was as delighted to bring Jesus into the place he lived as Jesus was to meet him there. Jesus does that; meets us where we live.

5. Easy pickings
Zaccheus was ripe fruit. Notice how ready he was to change (vs. 8). We don't know if Jesus had to say anything to convince him that his life needed a shakeup. God had prepared his heart — as He prepares the hearts of all who come to Him.

6. Transformation
"Today salvation has come to this house," said Jesus. Salvation didn't just come to Zaccheus's life but his "house" (Oikos — his dwelling, family, descendants). We could say the same today whether the person encountering Jesus has been a gangster, an imam, a desperate housewife or cynical student.

Have you seen God operating in your life or the lives of others in these ways? I have. Being aware of these stages of spiritual fruit helps me in two ways.
  • I can pray specifically for these things to be happening in the lives of people I know who have not yet met Jesus or who have turned their back on Him.
  • I can be reassured that I am part of the process (as Jesus told us to be), even if I'm not the one to pick the fruit.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me be a worker with You in introducing people to Jesus. Amen.

MORE: Another take on this story

It just happens that the day I'm writing this is the day this story is featured on Bible Drive-Thru (my kids' devotions). Read "Dinner with a Sinner."

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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