Italian soccer player, Christian Panucci, was to have captained Italy’s side at the Olympic games in Atlanta. Instead, he was forced to fly home because of an injury. At New York’s John E Kennedy Airport, he was advised to catch TWA flight 800 to Paris and pick up a connecting flight to Rome. But he realized that his baggage from Atlanta had been mislaid. When he went to report the missing baggage, staff of the Italian airline, Alitalia, told him they had a direct flight to Milan leaving later that day from Newark, NJ. He decided to take the direct flight. It was Wednesday, July 17. Shortly afterward, at 8:02p.m., the Parisbound TWA Boeing 747 left the gate and taxied toward the runway. It was scheduled to be a 7 hour, 15 minute flight to Paris. Instead it became, for 230 victims, a 46 minute flight to eternity. Regardless of the cause of this crash, deepest sympathies should be extended to all who lost beloved friends and relatives in this horrible and tragic event.
Panucci’s decision to take the Alitalia flight was made in a moment, but it was a moment that would effect his life in a dramatic and unforgettable way. History records that a first century government official had a similar dramatic moment in his life. His city was welcoming a noted teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. This tax collector, Zacchaeus, was driven by more than mere curiosity in his desire to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. Disenchanted with life as it was, and apparently wishing for, not simply a “new start in life”, but rather “the start of a new life,” he raced ahead of the milling crowd. He climbed a tree, hoping for a chance glimpse or the possibility of meeting the Lord Jesus. To his surprise and joy, the Savior stopped at the base of the tree, called him by name and told him to climb down. Zacchaeus joyfully received the Lord Jesus that day — not only into his home but into his life. Outside the tax gatherer’s house, the Savior explained to the questioning neighbors that, “This day is salvation come to this house … For the Son of Man (a title of the Lord) is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Zacchaeus, previously a dishonest and greedy man, not only turned from that selfish way o i e but, in response to God’s grace to him, repaid those he had formerly cheated.
Each of us must have a moment like this — a time when Christ is personally trusted for salvation. You may have that moment today if you will come in repentance and trust the Lord Jesus. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.