Dear friends, I've finished reading the book of Luke and have one final story to share. Again I thought this was two stories, two nuggets but the Holy Spirit impressed upon me the bigger picture AND how they are linked together to my previous post about the the Kingdom of God Within Us. I just love it when He helps us make those connections!
This time the story begins with Zacchaeus. Is that Sunday School song going through your head?
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.
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.”
So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” — Luke 19:1-10 EVS
This story has always fascinated me in how this "wee little man" had such a dramatic turn of heart. No doubt, the Holy Spirit was already at work, but I found a little more to this story in that one word Jesus uses.
Must. Jesus says He "must" stay at his house. I looked up the Greek meaning of this word and was astounded by the force behind it:
dei — behoved, be meet, must (needs), (be) need(-ful), ought, should, must, ought, it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper, necessity lying in the nature of the case, necessity brought on by circumstances or by the conduct of others toward us, necessity in reference to what is required to attain some end, a necessity of law.
But this last part especially grabbed me:
necessity established by the counsel and decree of God, especially by that purpose of his which relates to the salvation of men by the intervention of Christ and which is disclosed in the Old Testament prophecies concerning what Christ was destined finally to undergo, his sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension.
After looking this word up, I understood how Zacchaeus had such a stunning and powerful transformation! This one power-packed word spoke to Zacchaeus the heart of his Savior and literally holds the promise and power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
God's Word is powerful. It is life. Our own Joanne has been sharing this very message with us frequently in the comments, and I have a little more I want to share along these lines. We so often discount how powerful our words can be, to encourage and give life, because we think we don't have something to say, or we don't know what to say.
Guess what? You don't have to have the words, because the One who lives in you does. Take a look at what Jesus said:
And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” — Luke 12:11-12 ESV
This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. — Luke 21:13-15 ESV
My friends, as we carry the kingdom of God within us, it makes perfect sense that the Holy Spirit will give us words of life to speak in any and every situation, whether in witnessing to a stranger or sharing our heart with our pre-believer. We can apply and expect this in every situation we encounter.
And I have a feeling you are doing this more than you realize as well. Those nudges to speak and act that we know are from the Holy Spirit are "living proof" of the Holy Spirit's presence and the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to us. Living in this understanding and awareness will open our eyes and heart to hear more and more.
Zacchaeus' big word is a powerful example of the Holy Spirit's presence in words. Pray for discernment snd believe that He's there and will teach you when and what to speak. I’m always amazed when the Holy Spirit does this. And don't be surprised if those words you wind up speaking come back to speak to your heart as well. Your faith and trust will grow too!