Summary: As Christ is seeking lost people to save, we should too.
Life is full of surprises. From meaningless good fortune of opening a winning bottle of Sprite, to grandiose life-changing circumstances like winning the Publisher’s Clearing House. As Solomon in his wisdom observed, “that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.” Many surprises can be attributed to circumstance, location, relationships, or timing.
However, some surprises to you are the result of a set up. When you open the door to a dark room and the lights come on and dozens of friends exclaim “SURPRISE!” it is because you have been set up. You believed you were going home at the end of a long day of work. In reality, your mundane routine was carefully observed by someone planning your surprise. You were to encounter the unexpected. Invitations had been passed around weeks ahead of time. Friends had whispered and suddenly changed the conversation when you came near. Cars were parked blocks away and unseen guests were let in your home. The lights were dimmed, voices hushed, breathing paused as you put your key in the door. You expected emptiness, but encountered a shocking, unanticipated, SURPRISE!
If you look for one thing, but find another, it could be that your surprise is not the result of chance. You may have been setup. Can you see in our text as they approached the graveyard, a place of sorrow, the first to visit the tomb of Christ since His death? They encountered what they did not expect, yet it was not by chance. They went to see dead hopes, grieve over dead relationships, cry for dead promises. But in their journey, they were found by what they did not seek. When you the seeker are found by what you sought not after, you have been framed, set up, surprised.
So it is with our blessed gift of salvation. We obtain what we did not aspire for. We possess what we did not pursue. We arrive at a destination without realizing we were on a journey. We are carried by the currents of irresistible grace into the ocean of God’s glory and salvation. Let us look at how God brings these great, unexpected blessings into our lives.
I. Jesus is a SEEKING SAVIOR
A. He comes to where you are
1. You can be yourself around Him
2. He is not intimidated by your desperte need or facade of strength
B. You couldn’t find Him, you did not know where to look
1. You could ascend to the heights of heaven, and though He is there your eyes have been blinded by sin
2. You could descend to the depths of hell, and though He is there, your senses have been deaded by depravity
C. He sees how you are hiding, yet curious
1. Will He accept me? I can’t even be in the crowd near Him because of who I am. I want to know about Him, but those near Him would recognize me and know that I am a wicked man.
2. Jesus locked eyes with Zaccheus.
3. He sees you like no other can see you. He gazed into Zaccheus’s insecurity, his shame, his desperate cry for change.
4. He spoke to Zaccheus.
5. While Z never expected to be personally addressed, He might have feared a rebuke. A command to demand his wrongs be righted.
6. The Word of Christ to Him was merciful.
7. The Word of Christ to Him was relationship-building fellowship
D. Change comes inwardly to your priorities, attitudes, lifestyle AFTER Christ speaks to you
1. This change is impossible without the gaze and Word of Christ rocking your world
II. WE ARE TO SEEK THE LOST WITH SALVATION
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
B. Our vision for church growth is not to just have a large church or a faceless label like "lost souls"
C. Our vision is for
1. The Zaccheus’s that are hiding out in the trees
2. The Brian’s that are hiding in the depression and divorce
3. The Eric’s that are lying in loneliness
4. The women that are wandering streets of addiction
5. Battered wives, abused children, alcoholic fathers, drunken mothers
6. Lonely, depressed, empty lives
D. Jesus wants to seek these lost men & women through us
E. They can be changed to:
1. The sold-out zelaous Zaccheus