Friday, December 04, 2015

Advent Day 4: Jesus Came to Seek and Save the Lost

"For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost"
Luke 19:10

Nobody liked Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).  He had two strikes against him - he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Tax collectors in Jesus' time had the authority of the Roman government to collect taxes, but they had the freedom to add a "personal service fee" of any amount.  So, if someone owed a hundred dollars to the Roman government, Zacchaeus was allowed to collect the hundred dollars plus any amount above that to put in his own pocket.  So, they hated him because he took money for the Roman government, they hated him because he was rich, and they hated him because his riches came by cheating people out of theirs.

This sinning tax collector heard that Jesus was in town and wanted to join the crowds to get a look at him.  But, Zacchaeus had a problem because, as the song says, he "was a wee little man."  Or perhaps Luke puts it a little more respectfully, he was "small in stature."  So, he climbed a tree to get a look at Jesus from above the crowds.  And, when Jesus passed by Zacchaeus' life changed forever.  Jesus looked up in the tree, called Zacchaeus by name, and told him that he wanted to come spend some time in his house.

You probably could have heard the collective gasp from the Pharisees when those words came out of Jesus' mouth.  Luke says they grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." They couldn't believe that someone who was claiming to be a man of God would dare associate with such people.  How could he?  In their minds, to be with sinners was sin.  

Furthermore, the Pharisees assumed any man of God would want to spend time with them.  They were the holy ones.  They were the ones who had it all figured out.  God would be honored to have them, they thought.

But, the reason Jesus came to earth wasn't for people like the Pharisees.  He didn't come for the ones who thought they were good enough for God.  He came for the ones who were far from God.  He came, as Luke says, "to seek and save the lost."  This is really good news for us!  If you feel like you're not good enough for God, like you're far from him, like he could never love a person like you, then you're the exact kind of person he's going after.

This Christmas remember that King Jesus left his eternal dwelling with the Father to be born in a filthy manger and walk the streets of earth to seek out the lost, not the righteous.  And, praise God that Jesus' mission hasn't changed.  He's still going after the lost today.

Advent Day 1

Advent Day 2

Advent Day 3

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