One of my favorite Christian movies is entitled “The Encounter.” In this movie five people, each dealing with their own personal issues, find themselves at a diner, which is run by none other than Jesus Christ, Himself. Jesus offers each person His assistance in confronting and overcoming the struggles they face, however, just as it is in real life, each of the characters must make the choice as to whether they will accept or reject Christ.
As we read the Bible, it is like gazing into a mirror. We will see characteristics of our own life, in many of the men and women we read of. Today we will take a look at four such individuals, and how one encounter with Jesus changed their lives forever.
Zacchaeus’ encounter (Luke 19:1-10)
Here we have a Jewish chief tax collector, who was disliked in his community, for working on behalf of Rome; And for collecting more than what the Romans required, for his own personal gain. Zacchaeus hears that Jesus will be passing through, and because of his short stature, climbs a tree, so that he can see Jesus over the crowd. As Jesus is passing through, in spite of the crowd of people around Him, He is looking for Zacchaeus, and addresses the tax collector personally by name; stating that He desires to visit Zacchaeus’s home. The crowd is shocked that Jesus would sully Himself by associating with the corrupt tax collector, however upon Jesus’s visit Zacchaeus is truly repentant of his past misdeeds, and vows to give half of his fortune to the poor and to repay those he has swindled, fourfold.
Perhaps you are or may know of someone who has amassed great wealth, through, unethical practices. Money can get you lavish homes, extravagant trips, and even enable you to surround yourself with interesting people, but it can not buy you inner peace nor can it free you from sin.
Like Zacchaeus people may look at you with hate and disdain, however the good news is that as much as you maybe looking for a relationship with the Lord, just like Zacchaeus’s account, Jesus is looking for you also. He desires to make His abode in the heart of every truly repentant person.
The possessed man (Mark 5:1-20)
The Bible gives us an account of a man who’d been overtaken and tormented by demonic forces. The evil spirits caused the man to cry and attempt to inflict physical harm upon himself daily. Those in the man’s community had tried to bind the man with chains, however the spirits always empowered the man to break free. Until the fateful day that Jesus arrived on the scene, and cast the demons out.
As sure as God’s Holy Spirit dwells within “born again” believers, to give us peace and wisdom; there are demonic forces who roam the earth, looking for an entry into people’s bodies. We hear of so many disturbing stories of people committing gruesome acts against innocent people, and we wonder how a person could be so violent. In many cases these violent acts are a result of the criminals being possessed by demonic forces.
While there are a variety of ways a person can potentially become possessed such as: drug abuse, attempting to channel the dead, listening to music with demonic themes; there is only one way to free a person who has been taken captive by Satan’s forces, and that solution is only found in the power of Jesus Christ.
The woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34)
For 12 years, she’d spent all of her money on physicians, who could offer no solution; and then one day heard that the Great Physician was in town. Though the crowd was large, she did not allow them to deter her from getting to Jesus to get her breakthrough.
Maybe you’ve been struggling with something for a long time. Perhaps you’ve searched for a solution in drugs, alcohol, the companionship of a man or woman, the validation by “so called” friends, etc…, only to get no lasting inner peace or relief. Whether you be male or female, I encourage you to do just like this woman. Have a little faith, and press your way to Jesus, where He is waiting with open and accepting arms to forgive and make you whole.
The Samaritan Woman’s encounter at the well (John 4:7-30)
It was the social custom of the day that Jews and Samaritans did not associate with one another, so imagine this Samaritan woman’s astonishment when she encountered Jesus at the well; and He asks for water. The woman’s curiosity increases when Jesus begins to speak of living water and eternal life. And when He reveals that He is fully aware of her multiple marriages she is so convinced that she is speaking with the Messiah, she leaves her water pot, and runs to bring back more Samaritans to hear Jesus’ words. Because of this woman’s receptiveness to Jesus, not only is she redeemed, but also many others of her townspeople.
Jesus is not restrictive to any social group or demographic. Blacks, Whites, Asians, Republicans, Democrats, Americans, Russians, Israelis, Palestinians, Iraqis, rich people, middle class people, poor people. We were all born as sinners, and Jesus desires to save us all. “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved”(John 3:16-17).
Paul’s encounter (Acts 9:3-6, 26:13-18)
Saul of Tarsus was an officer of the Jewish religious hierarchy. Because of his upbringing, he truly thought he was doing God’s will buy persecuting the early followers of Christ, however one fateful day, while in route to Damascus to arrest more Christians, Saul’s life was forever changed. Jesus appeared to Saul, in a vision; Giving Saul a new mission in life. Saul went from being a feared persecutor of Christians, to being the Apostle Paul minister to the Gentiles.
Perhaps you are someone who comes from a background in another religion, such as Islam, Judaism, or Hinduism. You may have some uncertainty about whether or not the good works you’ve done outweigh your bad deeds enough to qualify you for a happy afterlife. The truth is that none of our good works are enough to qualify us for a happy afterlife, and our only hope for peace in this life and in the next is to place our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. As He did for Paul, Jesus will welcome each of us with open arms, and give us a new purpose to live for.
We live in an imperfect world, filled with imperfect people. At some point, all of us are going to run into an issue that we just can’t handle on our own, nor will we be able to find a permanent solution that satisfies us inwardly, outside of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you’ve had an encounter with the Lord, and said “yes” to His beckoning call, I encourage you to continue on in the faith. Be of good courage, continue to trust in the Lord with all your heart, and to delight in Him. When the burdens of life come, remember that you can always cast your cares upon Jesus, for He careth for you.
Jesus makes this appeal to those who have not yet welcomed Him into their heart:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.