"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
These famously encouraging words were uttered by Jesus about himself, concerning His self-defined mission to bring truth and life to all who would believe. This truth would set them free and God would reclaim lives that had otherwise been lost. To whom did Jesus speak these words?
You probably know the children’s Sunday school song, “Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man”. It is a cute song, and so much fun to sing with little kids. They love to do the actions that tell the story of a smaller than average man who long ago found himself looking for the Messiah on a crowded street. As the story goes, this short man decided to climb a tree in order to get a better vantage point from which he could see Jesus as he walked down the street. Such was Jesus fame and popularity at this time in His ministry, that the crowds pressed in around Him and vied for His attentions. While Zacchaeus intended to look for Jesus, he soon found that Jesus was looking for Him.
Luke 19 tells us that Jesus, as He came to the tree where Zacchaeus had posted himself, He looked up and called out to the little man, “Come down right away. I must stay at your house tonight!” Can you imagine? Out of all of the crowds of people, Jesus finds Zacchaeus and invites Himself to dinner! I can only imagine that Zacchaeus might have panicked a little, but he graciously welcomed this famous Rabbi into his home.
Following supper, the effects of the Savior’s willingness to fellowship with and befriend him, became obvious. You see, as a tax collector, Zacchaeus was a Jew that was working with the Roman government to tax his fellow countrymen. Roman law permitted him to overcharge Jewish citizens and claim the extra as profit for his wages. Zacchaeus was among some of the most unliked and unappreciated people of his culture. But Jesus looked past what Zacchaeus was, and saw one who was lost. As Zacchaeus stood to boldly declare his repentance from his greed and abuse, Jesus said, “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 that which was lost.”
Zacchaeus saw, in Jesus, a gracious willingness to forgive and love that softened the hardness of his heart. Greed was replaced by generosity, falsehood by a love of the Truth, and lostness by fellowship. Though he was unworthy, the Savior met him and reached out a saving hand to him.
Today, Jesus extends that same hand to you. Forgiveness, restoration, mercy are all yours to be found if you will but seek Him.