“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” - Luke 19:10
One of my favorite poems is “The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole. In three short stanzas the poem paints the picture of an old man traveling his final highway as the end of his life nears. After crossing a fast-moving stream, he turns and begins building a bridge across it. A fellow traveler questions his rationale for building a bridge over a chasm that he’ll never cross again. The builder turns to his fellow traveler and famously says, “This chasm that has been as naught to me, to [a] fair-haired youth may a pitfall be; He too must cross in the twilight dim; Good friend, I am building the bridge for him!”
The Book of Luke records some of the most impactful moments in Jesus’ life and ministry. It records some of his most important teachings and miracles. But through it all, the Book of Luke holds this common theme: Jesus came to earth to seek and save people who were far from God—people who were “lost.” And nowhere in the Book is this theme made more clear than it is in Luke 19 as Jesus reaches out to the Danny DeVito of
a very short tax collector named Zacchaeus. Israel
You probably remember the story. The hated tax collector wanted to get a glimpse of Jesus as he walked through
But because of the size of the crowd, and because he was vertically challenged,
all he could see was the back of people’s heads. So Zacchaeus got creative. He
ran up the road ahead of Jesus and climbed a sycamore fig tree. And when Jesus
passed that way, Zacchaeus received the shock of his life. Not only did Jesus
see him perched up in that tree—Jesus actually stopped under the tree, met his
eyes and called him by name. He said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must
stay at your house today.” Jericho
Not surprisingly, the people in the crowd grumbled when they heard Jesus choose to have dinner with the person they despised the most—someone known for lying, cheating and stealing from the people. But Zacchaeus wasted no time demonstrating to Jesus that he was a changed man. He stood up and said, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (vs. 8). There’s no doubt: Zacchaeus was a changed man!
Now, just to be clear: Zacchaeus wasn’t saved because he generously reimbursed those whom he’d ripped off. Just like everyone else who is saved, Zacchaeus was saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. His generosity was simply his new faith in action. But consider this: When Zacchaeus ran ahead of the crowd and climbed the sycamore tree, he thought that he was seeking Jesus. But Jesus makes it clear in verse 10 that Jesus himself was the one doing the seeking: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
But who are the lost whom Jesus seeks? Bible scholar William Barclay gives a great answer to this question. He writes, “In the New Testament [‘lost’] does not mean damned or doomed. It simply means in the wrong place. A thing is lost when it has got out of its own place into the wrong place; and when we find such a thing, we return it to the place it ought to occupy. A man is lost when he has wandered away from God; and he is found when once again he takes his rightful place as an obedient child in the household and the family of his Father.”
This summer as I was finishing up a morning jog, I looked across the street from my house
and saw two large dogs moseying down the street. One was a German shepherd, and the other was a blood hound. I whistled for them to come over, and unlike many of the strays I’ve encountered, they actually came. They trotted across the street into my driveway, and I checked their collars. I don’t remember the name of the German shepherd, but the bloodhound was named…Bubba. So, I called the number on Bubba’s I.D. tag, closed my front gate and let my girls play with the two dogs all morning until their owner showed up to take them home. I’ve got to say: It felt really good to be a part of that family reunion. It felt really good to help return those two dogs home to their owner. But believe me, it feels even better to help people return home to God.
This past Sunday I asked our church family a very important question: “Why did God direct us to move our worship services to a new location and launch Impact Christian Church?” Is it because doing Sunday ministry in our new location will be cheaper or easier? Not at all! In fact, it’s more expensive, and it’s a lot more work for set-up. So, why did God lead us to do it? He did so because Jesus’ love for the people of Victorville compels him to seek and save the lost. And he has given you and me the incredible privilege of helping to bring our neighbors home to Jesus Christ.
So, may I be so bold as to ask: Are you a bridge builder? Are you in the business of helping others get back home?
Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for our Grand Opening at 10AM on Sunday, October 6th at the new Ralph Baker School in Victorville. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.