“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
IN THE GOSPEL WE ARE CONFRONTED WITH THE FACT THAT GOD ENTERED THIS WORLD AND TOOK UPON HIMSELF HUMAN FORM IN THE PERSON OF JESUS OF NAZARETH. As the apostle John put it, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In accounts like the one in Luke 19:1-10, we have a chance to learn something about why this happened.
As Jesus was passing through Jericho, He entered the home of a certain man named Zacchaeus, who was “a chief tax collector and was rich” (v.1). Zacchaeus had shown extraordinary interest in Jesus, and he proved himself sincere in his desire to repent of the sins he had committed, especially as a tax collector. And Jesus pronounced a blessing upon him: “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham” (v.9).
As He often was, Jesus was criticized for entering the home of such a person as Zacchaeus. But Jesus was looking for people like Zacchaeus. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (v.10). The thing that distinguished Zacchaeus from so many others who crowded around Jesus was not that he was lost, for every person Jesus ever met fell into that category. The quality that made Zacchaeus special was his recognition that he was lost. He knew he needed what Jesus came to offer: the forgiveness of sins.
The miracle of the Incarnation was necessary if any of us were to be forgiven. To die for us and atone for our sins, God had to take upon Himself the form of a human being who could be killed. And those who would receive the benefit of that sacrifice would be people just like Zacchaeus, those willing to humble themselves in true penitence and seek the grace of a forgiving Father.
Just as Jesus was misunderstood in His day, He is often misunderstood today. He is usually looked upon as a teacher of ethics, a social worker, or a psychologist. But Jesus came to be none of these things. He came to be our Savior. To be like Zacchaeus, we need to dispense with our preconceived notions and personal preferences — and let Christ save us in the way He came to save us.
“The more you know about Christ, the less you will be satisfied with superficial views of him” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon).