‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’ – NIVUK
Have you ever sought something which you thought was lost?
Have you ever felt lost yourself?
Jesus had spotted a man in a tree as he passed through the streets of Jericho and called him by name. The Rabbi invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house for supper and to stay the night.
Many of the people in the crowd which thronged alongside the teacher knew who Zacchaeus was. He was a chief tax collector and a sinner.
Like so many times and in so many places before those same people, who didn’t consider themselves to be sinners, grumbled about Jesus spending time in the company of people who clearly were sinners.
Maybe this teacher and prophet wasn’t the Messiah after all.
During the supper, Zacchaeus announces to Jesus that right there and then he was going to give away half of his goods – possessions and money – to the poor. On top of this, if he had cheated anyone in business then he would repay them four times the amount he took from them.
Jesus’ reaction to this declaration is to proclaim, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.’ Luke 19:9
Jesus is declaring that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham not just in heritage, but also in faith.
This chief tax collecting sinner had seen Jesus, and responded to his call for food and lodging for the night, but also as the Messiah calling him to repent and enter the coming Kingdom.
To those guests around him, who may or may not have been whispering unkindly at his declaration, Jesus tells them that his purpose was seek and save the lost.
This is an image which we encounter a number of times in the Gospels.
Seeking out the lost and restoring them.
I am sure we have all lost something – I mean ‘misplaced’ something – precious or not so precious. We are sure we know where we left it or where we saw it last, however, it isn’t there now.
Jesus was doing the same. Seeking out the lost and providing a beacon for them to return by.
Zacchaeus climbs a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. He realises he is missing something and this teacher/prophet passing through the city might just be it.
He started looking and Jesus notice as he passed by.
Just like Nathaniel when Jesus calls the disciples, he calls the little man by his name and invites himself – and his disciples – to stay for the night.
Sometimes the thing(s) we misplace, or lose, are more important than an object.
Sometimes the things we have lost is happiness, courage, love, hope, strength.
When Zacchaeus encounters Jesus he has the hope restored in himself that he can become a changed person and live a different life – in this case an honest life.
He makes his declaration of his intention to change and – importantly – how he will change to Jesus.
Jesus’ response is to give him the affirmation he needs to make this change and declares it to those around them.
Jesus acknowledges Zacchaeus’ faith.
When we have ‘lost’ something and we are struggling to ‘find’ it, follow Zacchaeus’ example.
Respond to Jesus’ call to stay with you.
Make your declaration to Jesus on how you intend to change – you don’t necessarily need to give away half of your possessions!
Then hear Jesus remind you that you are a child of Abraham – by faith we are Abraham’s heirs!
Then use that faith for Jesus is waiting to stay with you.