As Jesus approached, and later entered Jericho, two men’s lives were changed forever. The first man was a beggar named Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35), and the second was a despised tax collector, known as Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-3).
These two men had very different needs and reasons for seeking out Jesus. Bartimaeus was blind, and when he heard that Jesus was passing by, he started desperately crying out ‘Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.’ The annoyed crowd told him to be quiet but he refused to be silenced and cried out even the louder. He knew that the miracle worker was passing by, and blind Bartimaeus had the necessary faith for a miracle. Jesus saw his tenacious faith, stopped and responded by healing Bartimaeus. Both the beggar and the crowd who witnessed his healing were exuberant with praise towards God. Joy exploded forth and what an atmosphere of celebration there must have been.
Then, on the very same day, the spotlight moves away from Bartimaeus to a chief tax collector, who was very wealthy. Zacchaeus also had heard about Jesus and was desperate to meet him, but not for the same reasons as Bartimaeus. He was carrying a load that was too burdensome to bear; the crippling weight of unforgiven sin.
Zacchaeus had probably heard about Jesus’ reputation of being a ‘friend of sinners’ and wanted to see if His reputation was true. Many people would have despised Zacchaeus and with good reason, but perhaps this Jesus was different and could give him a new start. The tax collector went to frantic means to see Jesus for himself; ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up into a sycamore fig tree. How overjoyed he must have been when Jesus looked up, saw him and invited Himself around for dinner. I’m actually surprised that he didn’t fall out of the tree.
The crowd muttered and scoffed at this turn of events and put their noses up at Zacchaeus. ‘Why would Jesus bother with a man such as him?’ I can imagine them thinking. They were quick to rebuke, but eventually celebrate with Bartimaeus, but this was an entirely different scenario. Zacchaeus was a notorious sinner and prophets don’t hang out with such as him! Jesus could see what the crowd could not see though, and it was Zacchaeus’ heart cry that captivated His attention. This man wanted to get right with God, and Jesus wanted that too. His mission from God was to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). After a very public show of repentance by Zacchaeus Jesus proclaimed, ‘Today salvation has come to this house because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.’ The relationship that had been lost through sin, was now wonderfully restored.
I don’t know what your need is today, but God does. Perhaps you’re like Bartimaeus and in need of a physical miracle, or like Zacchaeus, in need of forgiveness? Or maybe you have a totally different need altogether, and neither or these two scenarios apply to you. It doesn’t matter really, as the solution is the focal point. I want you to grasp the truth that Jesus the Nazarene is ‘passing by’ YOU today. Can I encourage you to reach out in faith and take hold of whatever you may need from Him. Nothing is impossible for Him and no need is too small or too great for His intervention.
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