Faithlife Sermons

Jesus came to seek and save the lost

World Mission  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  18:03
0 ratings
Lk 19:1-10 Summer Hill 18062020 I think many of us love a lost and found story. Maybe it's William Callaghan lost 2 nights in the Victorian bush, or a favourite book in our house, Dogger. One Friday night back in Tanzania, just settling back after a long week I got a call. One of the college cows had gone missing! Apparently some other guy was taking his cows up the road past our college, and one of our cows had got caught up and gone with them. So we jumped in my car with a couple of students and Kimu, the guy who works at college looking after the cows. We rushed up the street to the first corner - and stopped to ask those there. Did you see some cows? Which way did they go? Off we went again, zooming along the road til the next corner. Luckily there were some folks here as well. Did you see some cows? Which way did they go? Off we went again, bumpy dirt roads now. Across the old railway line and around the corner. Another intersection. No one here. Out they all pile to have a look of the hoof prints. I can't believe it. These are all city guys. They've never tracked anything in their lives. This has gone on too long. Anyway, of we go again - they've gone straight ahead apparently. We speed off around the curves, past the army base, climbing the ridge around the lake. And, woah, can you believe it, some cows up ahead. We catch up to them and the guys jump out while I turn the car around and wait. A couple of minutes pass and I'm told, the cow's not here. Is it the right bunch. Yep. What happened? The guy said the cow never came. he chased it off. What! We ring the college and they send someone to look in the cow sheds. And sure enough, there he was, safe and sound, in his shed, back at college! Today's passage is another lost and found story. It's actually a well known Bible passage. Its featured in many children's Bibles. 1 Short Zaccheus climbs a tree to see Jesus. It's a story used often to teach repentance. But its mainly about God's grace Its about how God in his abundant love pursues and rescues imperfect and unworthy people. Or, as it says in v 10 ... The son of man - Jesus - came to seek and save the lost. Let's have a look. Zaccheus is lost. The first thing we see in the story is that Zaccheus is lost. Lk 19:1-4 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. Poor old Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus but couldn't because he was short. So he runs ahead and climbs a tree so that when Jesus comes past he could have a look. The tree not only gave him a good vantage point but also would have kept him pretty well hidden. He could have a look at who Jesus was without being noticed himself. Like I would want at a magic show or a comedy act - seeing without being seen. Maybe Zaccheus felt guilty. There's a sense here that the crowd was deliberately keeping Zaccheus from getting a look. He was small in height, and small in their opinion. Zaccheus was a tax collector. 2 Although a Jew, Zaccheus worked for the Roman Empire collecting tolls. He took taxes from his own people and gave it to the Colonial masters. Oh and he kept some for himself. These tax collectors were despised by the Jews and seen as thieves, sinners and traitors. They were social outcasts. It's hard for us to a get a sense of this, especially if you've read the Bible before. About 9 years ago we helped the college unload a shipping container full of donated goods for the churches and for the poor of our area in Tanzania. One of the VIPs of the church arrived, surveyed the scened, picked out some choice items, loaded her car, and drove off. We were shocked, to say the least. I wonder if tax collectors are like those dodgy CEOs of charities or directors of orphanages who take the donations given for sick and needy kids to buy themselves a fancy yacht. It's no surprise that the crowd had a small opinion of him. Though outwardly successful as a chief government official and rich, Zaccheus, is in fact, lost. The thing about being lost is that you are stuck. Zaccheus was unable to see Jesus even though he wanted to. He was lost. So I want to pause here and ask what it means to be lost. It wasn't his wealth or his political alliances that made Zaccheus lost, Nor was it how the crowd saw him, What made him lost is something deeper, something within him: his basic stance towards the world and away from God, his desire for autonomy and self rule, 3 Zaccheus was lost because he had turned from God and towards his own self. In the end he was stuck , and unable to get himself free, unable to see Jesus, Many people today live with this basic stance towards the world and away from God Outwardly perhaps they seem successful, perhaps not, but according to the Bible, they are lost. Maybe you know someone like this. Maybe you feel this describes you. Often the lost are not who we'd think. We can't tell by physical appearance or life situation. What matters is where they are with God. Its important that we respect and show kindness to all people Its important that we don't judge by appearances, but seek to genuinely know people. Many people are lost, But the good news is that Jesus has come to find them. The second thing we see is in this story is that Zaccheus is found Jesus finds Zaccheus and shows him grace. Lk 19:5-6 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 4 Interestingly although its Zaccheus who wants to see Jesus, and who goes out of his way to do so, its actually Jesus who sees him. Did you notice that in v.5, how it was Jesus who looked up and spoke. ... and remember that Zaccheus was probably partly concealed in the tree and trying not to be noticed. Jesus stops, looks up, and sees Zaccheus. Jesus reaches out to him. Jesus speaks to him - and, amazingly, knows his name. This is no chance encounter. Jesus does not just stop in surprise because someone had gone over the top. No. Jesus was looking for him. Jesus intentionally went through Jericho in order to find Zaccheus, to embrace him and to stay with him. This is quite astonishing. And more so when we recall how Zaccheus was imperfect and unworthy and unloved. The story ends with Jesus' words to the crowd, v.10 that he, the Son of Man, has come to seek and save the lost. That word seek is the same word used of Zaccheus in v. 3, that he was seeking to see Jesus. Zaccheus was seeking, but he was lost, ashamed and unable. It took Jesus to seek him and to find him. Perhaps this is one of the most important ways in which the message of Jesus is different to so many other religions and worldviews. Elsewhere we are encouraged to seek out god, 5 strive for inner peace or reach out for more and better, but in Jesus God himself comes to us, intentionally seeking out imperfect, unloved and unworthy people, seeking them out by name. The good shepherd has come to those who are lost. He comes because they are lost. Amazing. Quite simply God cares for those who are lost. An astonishing God and an amazing message of extravagant love and carefree compassion. Jesus went through Jericho intentionally to find and embrace this unworthy and imperfect lost person. The good news of the gospel is that although Zaccheus was unworthy, unloved and imperfect, Jesus was for him. Jesus came for lost people like him. He came to find them and bring the new life by his death on the cross. This good news is for you and for your friends. Because Jesus is for the lost, for the unworthy, the unloved, and the imperfect. The Scandal of Grace But maybe this message doesn't sit quite right. Many there that day didn't like what Jesus did. The crowd complain and mutter. Lk 19:7 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner." 6 These weeks of home schooling have been quite the test for many parents. One of our children has been rather challenging. Each day we exhaust ourselves struggling to get her to do her work. Pleading, cajoling, threatening, and of course, the respite of many of us who are weak, bribing. And in the end she's playing with some new soft toy like Bluey for basically doing what the rest of our kids did without a problem. That's not really fair. The others worked well but the one who was a nightmare is rewarded. We see that sort of thing all the time don't we? Surely you've felt overlooked when someone else undeserving is celebrated or gets off scot free. I reckon we can get the complaints of the crowd here, especially if we remember that the tax collector is like that dodgy CEO stealing from needy kids. Why him, why does Jesus choose to stay at HIS place. This word mutter, or grumble, is a loaded word in the Bible. Back in Moses' time, after God rescued the people from slavery in Egypt, the people muttered against Moses time and time again. They even said 'better if we'd died in Egypt than to be here with you'. The complaining was against God's chosen leader and the steps that God was taking to rescue his people. They preferred their own way, even if it meant slavery and death. So too here, the people complain and mutter against God's chosen leader, Jesus, and what God is doing to save. How dare he lodge with sinners! How dare he eat with tax collectors! 7 How could he show mercy and compassion to people who are so bad. Jesus' love cuts across those attitudes and exposes them as heartless. Imperfect and unworthy he may be, a sinner and a traitor, but Zaccheus is still valued in God's sight. And so v. 9 ... 9 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. This one too, this one too, despite his actions and poor decisions, even though he is lost, God sees him and cares. Actually, Its because Zaccheus was lost, because he was imperfect and unworthy that Jesus went to find him. The Bible shows that God is so full of mercy and compassion and grace that he seeks out lost, wicked and sinful people, outcasts and traitors, in order to rescue them. He doesn't wait for them. He actually seeks them out! What do you think of a God like that? If we recognise our own weakness, wrongdoing and lostness, then like Zaccheus, I think we'll see it as good news of great joy. But, if like many of the crowd, we count ourselves as okay, as righteous, if we are resting on our laurels, content with our moral goodness, then maybe it makes us uncomfortable? Are you on board with a God who's deliberating going out in the world to forgive evil people and bring into his kingdom people who don't deserve it? 8 Let's not write anyone off, but remember that despite their life decisions, each person is of immense value. Since God is full of compassion Wouldn't it be great if we too had that same attitude of generosity and kindness to all and especially to the lost, imperfect and unworthy. to care and value and love and to see them found! Our last point them, is that Jesus still seeks and saves the lost. By his death on the cross for our sins Jesus won forgiveness for all who trust in him. He rose again in order to bring this forgiveness to people in every place. He does that from heaven above through his people here on earth. This is what he promised in Matthew 28 after he had risen from the dead. He promised to be with his people always. Mt 28:18-20. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." This means that if you are a follower of Jesus, As you love your neighbour, And reach out to them in compassion, and share the good news of his victory over sin and death on the cross, As you do that, Jesus is present with you and through you he is seeking and saving the lost. 9 Amazing. This is why we can confidently be involved in mission here in the inner west, and in every place. We can confidently pray, we can boldly go, we can give extravagantly, and we can care. Actually care for people who are lost. Maybe we don't always know the best way to help them, but we can care - we must care, because Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And best of all we have the message of Jesus, a message which saves everyone who believes it, no matter who they are, what they've done or what's in their past. It saves and gives new life, hope and freedom. That's why Katie and I and our four kids have given up our comfort, family and lives here in Australia and relocated to Tanzania. There we serve the local church training pastors. There are many challenges, tears and frustrations, but we are there because we believe that in every place Jesus is intentionally seeking lost people and saving them. People lost in witchcraft, lost in greed, lost in self-rule, lost in ambition, lost in self- loathing and darkness, people who are lost. Jesus is present with his people in every place and through them he seeks out lost people in order to save. He shows extravagant love and carefree compassion. What an astonishing God and what amazing grace. 10
Related Media
Related Sermons