When God Gets Personal

Luke 19:1-10  Jesus sees Zacchaeus in the tree and invites himself to his house – he still does it!

Jesus said, “Zaccheus come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” What a day that must have been! Few who heard Jesus got to meet him personally. Think of the 5000 who ate his multiplied bread. Those at the back just met the ushers! But on this day a mere spectator watching from a tree would have his moment. And he wouldn’t just get to talk to Jesus; he would have him round for dinner!
Zaccheus didn’t think a man like Jesus would have the slightest interested in him. He was a tax collector, someone known in those days for being a con man, someone religious leaders avoided. But Zaccheus was interested in Jesus, and because he was short and couldn’t see over the heads of the people he decided to climb a tree.
When Jesus spotted Zacchaeus and invited himself to his house, Zaccheus couldn’t believe it, and nor could the crowds. Many of them wished the famous rabbi would come under their roof, but here he was getting cosy with a con man. And that day the con man got to know Jesus better than many.
There are many people today that are just like Zaccheus’. ♦ They sneak into church and sit at the back. They want to see if this Jesus thing is for real, but prefer to see from a distance. Then the Holy Spirit spots them like they’re way up in a tree, and they wonder, ‘What’s this presence I’m feeling?’ And when the preaching starts and they think, ‘But that’s what my wife said yesterday, what’s going on here?’
I can tell you what’s going on; the Holy Spirit is saying, “I see you, and I’m coming to your house today.”
The Holy Spirit is doing the same thing today that Jesus was doing in Zaccheus’ day. He spots people in a crowd that need him and then visits them personally.
Many believers think of the Holy Spirit as merely power for miracles because Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” But the Holy Spirit is much more than power; Jesus described the Holy Spirit as our Councilor or Comforter (John 16:7), and he said the Holy Spirit would convict us (8), guide us (13), reveal things about Jesus to us (14), and remind us of things Jesus said and did (14:26). The Holy Spirit really gives us a divine relationship; this is much more important than power. In fact that is part of the problem the church is having in healing ministries today. People want God to heal but they do not stop to check on what the Holy Spirit is doing. People assume the Holy Spirit is healing when in fact he is doing something else. Power must flow out of relationship with the Holy Spirit; we cannot heal when he isn’t healing. We need to follow the wind of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit gives us a tangible relationship with God; the kind of relationship that Jesus had with his disciples. We should talk to the Holy Spirit just like the disciples spoke to Jesus.
Benny Hinn wrote a book called, “Good Morning Holy Spirit.” I believe we can and should speak to the Holy Spirit that way. The early believers had a very intimate relationship with the Spirit. We can tell this from the things they said; like, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28), or “In every city the Holy Spirit warns me” (Acts 20:23), or “May … the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you” (2 Co 13:14).
Jesus went home with Zaccheus, but on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit went home with 3000 new converts. He visited in their homes. Jesus couldn’t visit 3000 people individually like that. This is why Jesus said to his disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).
The Holy Spirit gives us an experience of God that is personal. There is a difference between reading about someone and knowing them personally. There is a difference between reading Nelson Mandela’s book and having him in your home for dinner. Many have read the book but not experienced the man. Likewise it’s important to read God’s book but even more important to meet Him in person; and in the age of the Spirit we meet God in the form of the Spirit, and the experience is life changing. This is why we always call for more of the Spirit’s presence; there is nothing like him.
What I love about the Holy Spirit is that he spots people in the crowd and deals with them individually. This was graphically demonstrated on the day of Pentecost when the tongues of fire separated and rested on each person. The Holy Spirit touched each one individually and separately as if Jesus was going around the room laying hands on each of the 120 believers, one at a time.
Let me finish by saying this. Zacchaeus positioned himself in the tree, but Jesus saw the position of his heart. He knew Zacchaeus was ripe for picking. He was a con man but a man that was looking for something else. Jesus knew that what he was really looking for was forgiveness and a tangible relationship with God. And that day God visited his home. I believe that if we will position our hearts for a personal encounter with God, God will visit us personally in the form of his Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost 120 believers had their hearts positioned to encounter God, and the Spirit came both corporately and personally. This week, why not position your heart for a visitation? Jesus said, “Zaccheus come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Perhaps he wants to come to your house today.

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