Luke 19:5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.
No one but Jesus knew that this would be the last time He would ever pass through Jericho. If we put the story of Zacchaeus in its proper time-frame, we learn that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem where He would be crucified. Therefore, because Jesus would not be passing this way again, it was imperative that Zacchaeus respond promptly to the Lord’s command.
Sometimes people think that they have the choice as to when they will be saved. Yet scripture seems to indicate that God gives men only a limited number of opportunities for salvation and if they turn down those opportunities, they may not have other opportunities again. The Bible says that God’s Spirit “will not always strive with men.” (see Gen 6:3) There can come a time when God will no longer seek to draw someone to Christ. We can reject salvation until it is too late. Therefore men must do as the Bible says – “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near…” (Isaiah 55:6)
A few months ago I had a very unique experience. My mother fell and broke her hip and had to spend time in a center for rehabilitation. Although we did not understand at first why this had happened, we learned later that God had a very special purpose and reason.
One day while I was visiting mom, a man from her church came by. During the conversation he spoke of another man in their community who had cancer and was not given long to live. I knew this man from years past and therefore I was curious if he had ever made a decision to receive Christ. “Not that I am aware of” the man told me. Then I asked if he knew where the man lived. Part of me was saying that I did not have time to go by this man’s house, and part of me knew that if I did, there was a good chance that he might be saved.
Later that day I began to make my way back home. I’m ashamed to say it, but I intentionally passed the exit where I should have gotten off, telling myself that I was too busy to go there that day. I actually prayed and told the Lord that I would try to get another pastor I knew in that area to pay the man a visit. But then the Lord said to me, “You mean to tell me that you don’t have 30 minutes to help this man escape spending an eternity in hell?” I was ashamed of my self-centeredness and at the next exit, I turned around and headed to his house.
When I saw him, I knew that he didn’t have long to live. I introduced myself and asked him if he remembered me. “Oh sure” he said cheerfully and I knew by that I was being given the opportunity to help this man find salvation.
Where would I begin? How could I start this awkward conversation in front of all of this man’s family? Suddenly I knew in my spirit that I was there on God’s business and so I knelt down beside him and softly said, “God sent me to talk to you.” He looked at me with a puzzled look. Then I asked if he if would like for me to tell him how he could be forgiven of all his sins and go to heaven when he died. He responded by saying, “I wished you would.” I explained to him the good news of the gospel and then I asked if he would like for me to help him say a prayer. He agreed and that day my friend received Jesus Christ as his Savior. A few days later I heard that he had passed away. Though his death made me sad, I was thankful to know that he was now at home with the Lord in heaven and that mom and I had had a part of him being there.