Have you ever noticed how distance changes our perspective of something?
Think about it.
You see someone waving in the distance and they seem to be waving right at you.
But when you begin to look around you realize they are waving at the person behind you.
And many times, as they are moving closer to you it starts to become obvious that they are definitely not waving at you.
Our relationship with Jesus is the same way.
Many people have a distorted view or understanding of God because for one reason or another they only observe or see Jesus from a distance.
There is a story about a man in the bible that had heard about Jesus.
And when Jesus was in the distance this man wanted to get a better look so he got up in a tree to see Jesus.
Let’s look at the story of Zacchaeus.
It is found in Luke chapter 19.
So, here is what we know.
The name Zaccheus means “righteous one.”
But because of his occupation he was not living up to his name.
We know that Zac was not just any tax collector, but he was the chief tax collector.
That basically means that he was over the business.
And he was apparently good at his job which meant that he took lots of extra money from people.
So, he was a hated man.
No one wanted to be around him.
We also know that Zac was short.
Verse 3 says, “he was short he could not see over the crowd.”
So like anyone that couldn’t see good, they get there early to get a good seat.
When me and the girls go to the movies, dad likes to get there early.
I have a place in the movie theater that I feel is the best seat in the house.
I feel like I can see the movie the best from that seat.
Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus.
He had heard all the stories about him.
There were probably some things about Jesus that just made him a little curious to want to know more.
Questions were flowing through his head like, why the big crowd?
Who is this Jesus of Nazareth they are following?
What am I missing?
It stirred his curiosity so much that Zac became like a little child.
In the East, it is unusual for a man to run, especially a wealthy government official; yet Zaccheus ran down the street like a little boy.
And he even climbed a tree!
Jesus said in Luke 18:17
That day Zac became like a little child.
He wanted to see Jesus.
And then the invitation comes.
Why would Jesus want to come to Zac’s house?
He was a terrible sinner.
He had cheated so many people out of there money.
He had turned his back on his own people to work for the Roman government.
But Jesus extends an invitation to go to Zac’s house.
Zacchaeus is shocked and he accepts the invitation.
Zacchaeus thought he was seeking Jesus, but Jesus was seeking him.
By nature, the lost sinner does not seek the Savior.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they his from God, but God came and sought them.
When Jesus was ministering on earth, He sought out the lost; and today the Holy Spirit, through the church, is searching for lost sinners.
The Bible doesn’t tell us how God had worked in the heart of Zaccheus prior to this meeting with Jesus.
But we can rejoice that a seeking Savior will always find a sinner who is looking for a new beginning.
There was a transformation that happened in Zac’s life and it all came about because Jesus sought out Zaccheus.
And that is the same theme that is happening every day, God wants to be close to us, but we tend to keep him at a distance.
That is the heart cry of God.
God Wants to Be Close to You.
Even in Jesus’ most darkest moment of his life.
When he was hanging on the cross between two thieves.
One thieve was mocking him and the other stopped him.
Then this thieve asks Jesus a question that he didn’t deserve to ask.
Here Jesus was dying on a cross.
He had already taken the sins of the world upon his life and in the midst of his agony and pain this man asks for Jesus to remember him and what did Jesus say...
Even at Jesus’ darkest moments he told the thief that he would be with him in paradise.
God wants to be close to us.
Then, just moments after this exchange, something else powerful happens right after Jesus dies.
God didn’t waste a moment.
He didn’t wait a week later.
It was instant.
As soon as Jesus died, paying the price for all of mankind’s sin, God split the curtain for eternity.
That curtain represented a wall that only the high priest could walk through to make atonement for the sins of the people.
But at the moment that Jesus died God split that curtain open and gave all of us access to the throne room of God.
Because God wants to be close to us.
If you weren’t sure before now, I need you to know that God wants you close.
That is not just something for me to say or to make you think this sermon is good, but that is a genuine statement.
God wants to be close to you.
That is his desire.
That is how much he loves you.
It is in and through Jesus that we now come close to God.
The sad reality is that too many settle for distance when Jesus paid everything to bring us close.
I want to give you two reasons this morning that many of us try to stay at a distance from God.
How We See Ourselves Often Keeps Us at a Distance.
Zacchaeus saw himself as unworthy and didn’t attempt to come close to Jesus.
He was okay with a distant relationship with Jesus.
He just assumed that was all he deserved.
Most of us because of our guilt and shame we feel that we are unworthy.
Think about Adam and Eve, they tried hiding in the garden because they were ashamed of their sin.
And it is at those times that the enemy wants to master his way in and tell us that we are unworthy of God’s love.
But the Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Listen to what I am going to tell you.
Write it down.
Sin Separates Us But Doesn’t Change God’s Heart Towards Us.
No matter what you feel like you have done don’t run from God, but run to Him.
That thief that was on the cross with Jesus had plenty of reasons to doubt his worth and value, but in a last ditch effort he reaches out towards Jesus.
The thief acknowledged who Jesus is and he asks Jesus to remember him in His kingdom.
2. Another Thing that Keeps Us at a Distance is How We See Jesus
Jesus tells a parable in the book of Luke about two sons and specifically highlights the broken journey of one of the sons who loses his way and then makes his way back to the father.
Look at Luke 15 beginning at verse 11
Here is a reality as you follow Jesus...
How You See Jesus will Affect What You Receive From Jesus.
In both the story of Zaccheus and the story of the lost son, they both didn’t think that the Father would want anything to do with them because they saw God as more of a harsh, judgmental, and angry father, rather than the all powerful creator and loving father.
I can only imagine what is going through the prodigal son’s mind as he is going back home after spending all of his inheritance.