It is a delight to welcome you to Harrow International Christian Centre this morning. We trust that you will feel the warmth and acceptance by the fellowship and that you will experience the love of God in your life by being in the service today. Primarily we are here to worship the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Saviour and Lord. We sing hymns and spiritual songs that we hope will lift up your heart towards God in worship for who he is.
The partners and attendees of this multinational Church have, at some point on their journey through life, encountered Jesus. This happened to many people while Jesus was here upon the earth. I think of the woman whose story is recorded in John chapter 4. She met Jesus while he was sitting by a well. This was the normal routine of life for her, and yet just a few moments in the presence of Jesus changed her whole life including her eternal destiny.
What about Zacchaeus whose story is found in Luke 19? He was disliked because he was a tax collector who cheated the people for his own personal gain. Being a small man he had to climb up a tree in the hope of seeing Jesus as the crowd jostled and pushed to be near Jesus. Jesus stopped and looked up into the branches and asked him to come down because he wanted to come to his home and share a meal with him. Life was totally transformed to the degree that Zacchaeus repaid back everything he had ever stolen many times over.
Both of these people I mention were outcasts of society. People despised them and excluded them from community life, but Jesus took the time to speak with them personally and entered their hearts to bring healing and restoration. He stopped at the very place where they were. He spoke deeply into their circumstances with great knowledge and insight into their private world and needs. He removed the embarrassment and shame of the past and the present and gave them hope for the future. When Jesus called Zacchaeus he came down from the tree gladly. He knew he needed Jesus so he positioned himself so he could see above the crowd. Rejection and exclusion was the crowd in his heart and mind. He raised himself up above all that could stop him from seeing Jesus. Jesus stopped right beneath his tree and called him down. Come down from your place of hiding in the leaves and allow me to come right into your home.
There is an interesting connection to when Adam and Eve first became conscious of their own sin and nakedness before God, because they also hid in the trees and made coverings from the leaves. Adam and Eve could not keep any sin hidden from Jesus and neither could the woman at the well. Jesus knew that she ‘had already had five husbands and that the man she currently lived with was not her husband’.
I believe the response of Zacchaeus reveals a depth of abandonment of himself to the Saviour. This is what it takes to see real transformation in our lives. A willingness to give our all and invite him into the centre of our heart to eat with us. Once again I quote Revelation 3 v 20: Here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.