Fishing Lessons From Jesus’ Encounter with a Rich Young Ruler and a Chief Tax Collector
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem where He was to partake of His last Passover meal with His disciples. On the way, He and His disciples meet two men who were both seeking eternal life. The first one Jesus meets is identified as the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:18-27), who is extremely rich and who is sure that he has lived a life of righteousness worthy of eternal life. However, Jesus tells the man that only by giving away his wealth to the poor and following Himself (that is Jesus Christ) will the Rich Young Ruler obtain eternal life. At this, the Rich Young Ruler became sad and walked away because he loved his wealth more than eternal life with Jesus.
How often self-righteousness and wealth blinds hearts to the truth and prevents a joyful coming to Jesus Christ. This man looked like he had everything going for him, wealth, a high standing in society, and an exemplary life in the way he treated others. Yet, he did not have eternal life. I have a friend just like this man. He has everything except a relationship with Christ.
A while later Jesus meets a man living in Jericho named Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Luke describes him as a son of Abraham, a chief tax collector, and as a man rich from the proceeds of his tax collecting business. This job earned him the title of “sinner” from his fellow Israelites. His short height and unpopularity meant no one was willing to let him near Jesus. Therefore, he had to resort to climbing a tree, like a child, to get a position to see Jesus. Three amazing things happened when Jesus walked by that tree. First, Jesus stopped, asking Zacchaeus to come down so that He could stay at Zacchaeus’s home. Second, the crowd grumbled that Jesus would stay with a man who was a sinner. Third, Zacchaeus’s response was exactly opposite to that of the Rich Young Ruler; He received Jesus joyfully; He gave away his wealth to the poor; He promised to restore fourfold any money he had obtained by fraud! Jesus’ testimony was that Zacchaeus was saved!
Pondering these two examples of Jesus fishing for men, challenges me in three ways.
First, am I praying that God will show my blinded friends their need for Christ? This is a real need before they can understand and believe a gospel message.
Second, am I engaging with people like Zacchaeus who are sinners and don’t live Christ honoring lives? These people often live unpopular messy lives that I don’t want to be associated with. Yet, they may be the most open of all people to hear Christ’s plan of salvation.
Thirdly, will I ask God to show me and lead me to the Zacchaeus’s of the world that is, those ready to hear and receive the good news.
How can the story of these two encounters help you grow your fishing for men?