Summary: If God is the One who saved, does it mean that men should be the ones to preserve their salvation? Or, should we believe that Jesus is the ONLY Savior – He Who saves the lost, not to lose the saved?
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a `sinner.’" But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (NIV).
If you have your salvation, can you lose it?
While there are those who believe that they don’t work to be saved, they argued that they have to work for their salvation – to endure in order to preserve their salvation. Do we really need our good works to be saved, or to preserve our salvation?
If God is the One who saved, does it mean that men should be the ones to preserve their salvation?
Or, should we be believe that Jesus is the ONLY Savior – He saves the lost, not to lose the saved?
Let’s have those questions in mind, as we take another reading of Luke 19:1-10.
We read in verse 1, “Jesus entered… passing through” – God is seeking… to save the lost, as we read in verse 10. If we have also the concern in our heart to save the lost, do we also seek them – have we entered a certain place, perhaps, just a certain house of our neighbor, relative, or acquaintance and “pass through” as we invite him to come to Jesus? If not the house of our relative, have we ever entered the room of a member of our family – of our child or parent who is not yet aware about the grace of God? What is our “Jericho” that we need to enter and pass through to “seek and to save what was lost”?
In verse 2, we learn that Zacchaeus was a “chief tax collector.” – during those times, a tax collector was regarded at the lowest level of the sinners, together with the prostitutes.
In chapter 18 of Luke, we read about of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We will notice how the Pharisee looked down upon the tax collector. Let’s review verses 9-14:
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men -- robbers, evildoers, adulterers -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Notice that God accepted someone not by being obedient to the law – not by good works, as we read in verses 13 to 14. The tax collector acknowledged that he was a “sinner” – a lawbreaker. In fact, not just an ordinary sinner, he could not offer to God any good performance. He felt so unworthy, so undeserving not just to receive something from God, but even undeserving to be in His Presence – “he could not look up heaven.”
The tax collector regarded himself as nothing before God that he could not even ask any approval, or even “forgiveness.” He only petitioned God for “mercy.” Yet, Jesus said, the tax collector was “justified,” or, in other words, “saved.”
When God removed our spiritual blindness, not only we see His Greatness and Glory. We also realize our emptiness, our unworthiness, our helplessness! We recognize our incompetence to become righteous before the Holy and Perfect God. We acknowledge that only His mercy can save us.
Like the tax collector, we need also to accept that we have nothing to offer before God. We are so nothing, so undeserving that we don’t regard ourselves even worthy of forgiveness. That’s the humility we ought to have and to say, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”