Jesus on Mission For Us and With Us
by Danny Stimson
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Recently, I got lost coming back from a road trip out of state. I arrived at the destination the week before with no problems without GPS. Impressive, I know. However, on the way back, I took a wrong turn on a major highway and did not realize it for about an hour. When I realized I was lost, I did not immediately admit my defeat. Instead, I plugged “home” into the GPS just to make sure, without my wife seeing of course. I had known something did not seem right well before an hour into my wrong turn, but I did not do anything about it. Why? Because I did not want to be wrong. To be wrong is to be weak. I should have trusted my gut. And I should have simply used my GPS. But that would have meant that I was not good enough to navigate myself.
In this past Sunday’s sermon text (Luke 19:1-10), we find out what Jesus’ mission is: to seek and to save the lost (19:10). But how does he do that? He does it by seeking us out, seeing us for who we really are, (weak, dead sinners), and receiving us despite all of that. In this passage we see Zacchaeus “seeking”, “seeing” and “receiving” Jesus in response. Zacchaeus seeks Jesus because he knows his life has not led to fulfillment. He is described by Luke as a “chief tax collector” and “rich”. As far as vocation goes, he had arrived. He had job security and a steady, high income stream. As Dan Iverson said Sunday, “Zacchaeus was rich. You would think he would be happy and fulfilled.” In nothing having found fulfillment, Zacchaeus realizes he needs to see Jesus. Zacchaeus’ physical shortness which disabled him from seeing Jesus is meant to drive home the fact that his inability to see Jesus was not merely physical. It was spiritual. In order to truly see, Zacchaeus had to admit that he wasn’t satisfied with his life. It had not measured up to his expectations. He was going in the wrong direction. And here Jesus was, coming in his direction. However, what Zaccheaus did not know was that his life was about to be set on a trajectory that would change him physically and spiritually forever. As Zacchaeus was seeking to see Jesus, Jesus was on a path of seeking to see Zacchaeus and to be received by him, both into his home and into his life. In being sought and seen by Jesus, Zacchaeus received Him with joy! His life was turned upside down. He immediately committed to giving half his stuff away and setting right all the ways he had cheated people out of money. Zacchaeus was not the only one lost and in need of redirection in this story. As Zacchaeus was receiving Jesus with joy, the crowds “grumbled.” Why? Because Jesus’ mission was not to seek and save those who sinned the least, but rather those who were willing to admit that they had nothing to give. They only had someone to receive.
Sometimes a good question is better than a good answer. In what ways are you seeking fulfillment and purpose apart from Jesus Christ? In what area of your life are you lost? Have you ever truly seen Jesus? The best way to begin to follow Jesus is to stop striving. Admit defeat. And allow yourself to be guided by Jesus to the path that leads to eternal life, the path that Jesus paved on his journey to the cross, to the tomb, and to His resurrection which conquered sin and death. As you and I seek to answer these heart questions this week, may we sing in our hearts the words of Sunday’s hymn, “Jesus what a strength in weakness! Let me hide myself in Him. Hallelujah what a Savior! Hallelujah what a Friend!”