Summary: “Today salvation has come to this house...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” Luke 19:10.
Theme: He came to seek and to save the lost
Text: Is. 1:10-18; 2 Thess. 1:1-12; Luke 19:1-10
Thirty first of October was Reformation Day. On that day in 1517 Martin Luther rediscovered the truth of Scripture that salvation is by grace and not by works. This truth is clearly visible in today’s gospel reading from the nineteenth chapter of Luke. This story is only found in Luke and presents us with precious gems about the grace of God. Zacchaeus, a name that means pure and righteous, grew up to become a rich Roman tax collector. For a Jewish man to become a tax collector for the Romans was to commit high treason. As a chief tax collector he fixed the rates the people paid and was in charge of all the other agents from whom he would collect his ‘cut’, here we would say his ten percent. In the minds of the people, tax collectors were often linked with murderers, adulterers, thieves and robbers. Tax collectors were disowned by their families and barred from worship in the Synagogue by the religious leaders. Zacchaeus was seen and hated as a notorious thief and traitor. He was rejected and in spite of his wealth condemned to a miserable life with no real friends. Jesus, however, is able to change his condition. No matter what we might have done in our lives, no matter how people may view us we are still valuable to God, so valuable that the Lord came to seek and to save the lost.
God created man in His own image and likeness and every person is valuable in His sight. We are so valuable to God that when man sinned and became separated from God Christ came to save us and reconcile us to God. His love shows how valuable we are to Him and is declared throughout the Scriptures. In the words of John “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”. (John 3:16-17) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”. (Eph. 2:8) We are so valuable to God that Christ also paid the price for our healing. In His own words He declares “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly”. (John 10:10) Christ does not save us and leave us to continue leading a life of lack and misery. On the cross he not only paid the penalty for sin but also healed and made us whole. Jesus took all our sicknesses and diseases and “with His stripes we have been healed”. We are so valuable to God that Christ has not only saved and healed us but has also delivered us from every curse and bondage. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’”. (Gal. 3:13)
We need a clear vision of Christ to realise how valuable we are to Him. Like Zacchaeus every person needs to climb the tree to get a clear vision of Christ. The tree has always been symbolic of the cross of Christ who hung on a tree in our place. The cross of Christ offers us a better vision and understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot see and understand Christ when people and other objects block our view of the cross. Like Zacchaeus the vision of many people is blocked by the heads of the crowd. Instead of seeing Christ they point us to various religions, occult practices, philosophies and doctrines that deny the Lordship of Christ. We see heads of people that try to convince us that there are many ways to God; that wealth and power show God’s approval, and that works and the keeping of the Law are most important in life. They are prevented from seeing Christ and understanding the grace of God. We can only see Christ clearly from the cross and understand the grace of God. Jesus Christ is different from everyone we have ever met and known and will ever meet and know. We all need a clear vision of Christ to see Him as Savour and Lord already waiting to reach out and meet our need. Zacchaeus was desperate to see the Lord. What about you? Are you desperate enough to humble yourself in order to see Jesus?
Christ wants ever person to come home, to be a citizen of His kingdom, and has paid the penalty for sin. We were once “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world”. (Eph. 2:12) Without meeting our need for forgiveness we would be condemned forever and this is not the will of Christ for anyone. Christ has paid the penalty for sin but His forgiveness is only to “whoever believes in Him”. Forgiveness and eternal life is available to those who believe in His death, burial and resurrection. Zacchaeus needed a vision and revelation of Christ to be saved. We also need the same vision and revelation and this is why Christ seeks the lost. Jesus knew everything about Zacchaeus just as He knows everything about us. He knew he needed forgiveness and eternal life and seeing him in his sinful state was filled with compassion. Christ came and ministered to him and brought salvation to his household and He will do the same for us today.