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.”
Luke 19:8 ESV
Do we really believe that Jesus the Christ can change lives? Do we believe that the crucified Christ can meet anyone in their sin, selfishness, and pride and conquer their hearts by his great grace, mercy, and love? The answer must be yes. The Apostle Paul declares,” For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16 NJKV). A face-to-face encounter with the resurrected Christ can change any heart, transform any life, break any addiction, and heal any pain.
No one leaves an encounter with Jesus Christ the same as when he came. For Jesus is the great transformer. A teacher of wisdom can’t manage that, because his goal is make himself superfluous. A student has no thanks for a teacher who never lets him graduate. But with Jesus Christ we go from one transformation to another. He gives us the brightness of morning as the day begins. He wraps us in his peace when the typewriters clatter and the telephone rings all day long. And in the evening I can let myself drop, because his hand is always beneath me.
He gives me joy in life and companionship in my final distress. And when I must stand in the final judgment, he will intercede for me because he has endured pain to draw me to himself and make me his own. The man from Nazareth stands between me and every shadow, for he had called me by name, he has brought me down from my airy spectator’s seat in the tree, and now there is nothing else in the world that can come between me and the final fulfillment of my life.
Helmut Thielicke, How to Believe Again , trans., H. George Anderson (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1972), 37.