Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Seek and Save

One of my favorite Bible stories is about a tax collector named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the area and very wealthy. No matter when you live, no one likes to pay taxes especially during this time. Tax collectors back then paid the government the tax money from their own pockets. In return, the government granted them the right to go to the people of a particular area and collect money. So, the tax collector paid the taxes to the government and now had the authority to collect back the money from the people. Needless to say, many of them abused their authority and took more than they had paid. With that sort of reputation, you can see why people did not like tax collectors especially back then.

I will not go through the whole story of Zacchaeus. We all know the song about the “wee little man” who climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view of Jesus. As he walked the streets surrounded by mobs of people all wanting to see the man from Galilee, Jesus stops and looks up to see Zacchaeus and says to him, “Zacchaeus you come down, for I'm going to your house today!”

I am sure that Zacchaeus was shocked that Jesus, a stranger, knew his name. He came down from the tree as he was told and took Jesus to his home. As Jesus went home with him, people began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

While there at his home, Zacchaeus felt conviction in his heart. The scripture does not provide us with the conversation between Jesus and him. However, we do know that Zacchaeus 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.”

Since there is no recorded conversation, I believe that Jesus, by his presence, brought conviction into Zacchaeus’ heart and that same conviction allowed him to repent and make things right.

In Luke 19, we see this beautiful story of how even the worst among us can be transformed. At the end of this story, Jesus says to him, “9 Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Jesus did not come into this world to condemn anyone. He came into this world to provide us a way back to the Father. Remember the words in John 3 when talking about the love of the Father. John writes, “16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

When you look at the words of Luke, you see something very interesting. You see the active verb of “seek”. Pair that with the words of John as he writes that God sent his son into the world. Once again, you see another action verb. Using both the words of “seek” and “sent”, you see deliberate actions on the part of the Father and Jesus. 

Deliberate actions have several key components. The first part is that the action is well-thought out and planned. Nothing is left to chance or happenstance. The second part is that there is a slow, methodical pace associated with each step. They are planned, processed and placed into action. There are no surprises.

Take the situation with Zacchaeus. Do you honestly believe that Jesus was just looking around and just happened to see a small man in a tree? No. Jesus knew that Zacchaeus would be up in that tree. Within a split second of just looking at him, Jesus calls him by name. He does not say, “Hey you up in the tree!” Jesus calls him by name and tells him that he must stay at his house. Jesus does not ask, “Can I sleep over at your place.” Jesus tells him.

When you think about our salvation, everything was planned by God. Each part was deliberate and well-thought out. Nothing was left to chance. I am sure in my heart that God planted that sycamore tree decades ago and watched it grow so that it could serve its part in the deliberate action of salvation for Zacchaeus. 

Even in our own lives, God has set into motion the plan for our salvation, but there is one thing that could change that plan. That change can only happen when you say, “No.” Think about the story of Zacchaeus. He could have easily said, “No. You can’t come home with me. Sorry.”

Salvation is a choice for each of us. We can respond to God’s deliberate actions in our life and accept salvation or we can choose not to and go about our merry way. Like Zacchaeus, Jesus calls out to us today and he calls us by name. He stands at the doors of our hearts quietly knocking and asking to come into our lives. We, like the wee little man, have a choice. We can either let Jesus come into our hearts or we can just stay behind our locked doors and ignore the call.

In John 8, we read the story of an adulterer brought before Jesus. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought her before Jesus and said to him, “4 “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?

Since she was caught in the act of adultery and the law of Moses was specific, Jesus could have said, “Then stone her.” But, he does not. He instead stoops down and writes in the dust.  

As the crowd continued to demand an answer, Jesus stands up and says, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” He then bends down and starts writing again.

Bible scholars and theologians all believe and agree that Jesus may have written the sins of those in the crowd. As each saw what he wrote, I am sure that each swallowed hard. Their sins were revealed. In time, each of the accusers slowly and quietly slipped away until only a crowd and a woman stood there.

Jesus looks at her and asks, “10 Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?

When she looked around, none of her accusers remained. All had slipped away. No one was there to throw a stone or continue to condemn her.

Jesus says to her, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.

Jesus came into this world not to condemn or pass judgement upon us. He sought us out to give us the gift of salvation which came straight from the hand of our Heavenly Father. Once we receive this gift, we can truly “go and sin no more” and live a righteous life.

As you go through this week, I ask each of you to think of the deliberate actions of the Father and Jesus and share the Good News with those around you. Let them know that salvation does not come by chance or a twist of fate. It comes from the Son of God who is calling out to them softly and tenderly. When you tell them the story of Jesus, you are fulfilling a part of God’s deliberate action in their lives and can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment